Helen Benigson.

*1985, lives and works in London, UK

studied at the Slate School of Fine Art, Londn, UK


Exhibitions [Selection]:
2012  Talmy (Premier Screening), London Jewish Film Festival, The Tricycle Cinema, London Talmy, UK
Palm Trees and Poker Players, James Hockey and Foyer Galleries, Public Gallery, The University of the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey, UK
2011  The Future Queen of the Screen, ROLLO Contemporary Art, London, UK
2010  Swimming to the Roses, Irma Stern Museum, Public Museum, Cape Town, ZA

The Future Queen of the Screen

Date: 2011
Length: 09:18 min.
Format: 16:9
Specifications: Colour, Sound, Single Channel
Courtesy the artist

 

 

The to-date most extensive video by Englishwoman Helen Benigson, “The Future of the Queen of the Screen”, combines contrasting visual worlds: the South London borough of Peckham and panoramic views of the beaches of the Dead Sea alternate with a virtual desertscape. The main protagonists are two female hip-hop dancers who compete both in real and in fictitious dance competitions in the shape of avatars and upload their choreographies to an internet platform. This narrative montage is interrupted by sequences showing a woman adrift in the sea, an appearance by the artist herself. Benigson’s video art is characterised by a complex visual language. Over-saturated colours and partially psychedelic elements are combined to form collage-like passages which blend impressions of nature with aggressive hip-hop gestures. What becomes particularly apparent here is the antagonism of ‘wet and dry’, accentuated by the lines of text and the sequence of images. On top of this, feminine attributes like the graduation of pink colouring in the shots, cross fading using larger than life sushi bites, rosebuds and also the female body are used in an aggressive fashion. The polemic interaction of image material, off commentary and musical accompaniment using rap by Beningson’s alter ego “Princess Belsize Dollar” persistently evokes sexual connotations and provocatively draws on the treatment of female sexuality in the internet age.

Ann-Kathrin Täuber
 

 

Interview:

 

► 1. Your work has been chosen among over 2000 festival entries to participate in VIDEONALE.14. In which context do you prefer to present your work, festival/cinema context or exhibition? And what kind of difference does the
respective mode of presentation mean for you / your work?

 

I am really excited that my work is going to be shown in Videonale.14 !! I have previously shown The Future Queen of the Screen as a large-scale, multi-screen video installation in a public gallery in England, where I created a fake beach in the gallery space with 15 foot palm trees, real sand, deckchairs, extra-large beach balls and projected the video on a huge screen. Seeing the same video on a single screen in a film festival will be a completely different context. I do not have a preference, but rather enjoy every mode of presenting video – whether downloaded on a tiny screen on my iPhone or enlarged as big as a building. I love the idea of layering or building up different spaces with as much footage as possible and letting the video become a material concern, whether online or projected.

 

► 2. Art can be seen as a mirror that registers and reflects life or as a tool that

transforms it. Is there a particular theme, concept or problem your art addresses the most?

 

As a video artist and a rapper, my current practice has an emphasis on performance within the space of the screen and the negotiation of identity, territory and body within cyberspace. I make narrative–based videos, where I layer saturated colour, pulsating sound, print and high anxiety symbols (sushi, palm trees, soldiers, poker). My aim is to create highly visceral environments, concerned with current biology / technology and sexy images and sounds. I am interested in how the corporeal is thought about in relation to the screen and furthermore, thinking about the screen as a space itself.

 

► 3. In which way is the video medium an excellent possibility to express your intended subjects, especially in contrast to other media you use? Or do you work exclusively with video?

 

I am interested in the relationship between video and performance. I want to examine the screen in its most basic form, as a flat plane of projected light - a virtual space; but also as an architectural territory that can stimulate image and performance; and furthermore a physical space that has the potential to be entered and occupied by the viewer.

 

► 4. If you have the chance to ask the visitors of the VIDEONALE.14 exhibition questions about your own work, what would be your question?

 

Do you think the avatar dancers in the virtual desert like eating sushi ? X x x