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15. 9. 2022   19:00
Barbara Benish
Riverside Hořejší nábřeží / Prague 5 

HUNGER STONES - NOT ENOUGH WATER FOR ONE ROOT

Digital communication can be imagined as a mirror, shadow or simulacra of our perceived reality. We are witnessing the ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ from political machines. Like the ancient metaphor from the myth of Plato’s cave, where dancing shadows seduce us into belief or disbelief, they question the truth and the role of art in portraying it. The performance takes place on the surface of the Vltava River, where a character – half human, half tree – dances and “draws” lines on the water and in the air – a prayer from/for/and to the water. The scene is visible from the shore, but it is also transmitted via live feeds to the screen where it is seen in detail. Creating marks is the artist’s response to a sensationalised media machine that distances the viewer from true experience and selfhood. The dream-like quality of the performance, which occurs at dusk, situates us all in an in-between world of twilight realities, forcing us to question our decision-making existence. The stones that the artist throws into the river during the performance refer to the phenomenon of the ancient  “hunger stones” with warning inscriptions, revealed at the bottom of European rivers by the current wave of drought. The title of the performance is a response to the artist’s early work for the Mánes Gallery from 1996 – Enough Water for One Root. In response to the current climate crisis, drought and global events since that time almost 30 years ago, the current work highlights our dire environmental situation.

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Barbara Benish (1958) is an artist, curator, writer, gardener and mother. She moved to Prague in 1992 from the USA as a Fulbright Scholar after co-curating the Dialogue: Prague/Los Angeles project (1989). In her multimedia work, she develops the themes of the relationship between nature and culture, the thematization of local histories, the interweaving of historical facts and mythological structures, and the interplay of memory and experience. Among hundreds of international exhibitions, one can mention the first exhibition of the ArtWall Gallery of the Center for Contemporary Art in Prague (flower power, 2000). At the Various Small Fires gallery in Los Angeles, she exhibited her series of watercolours, Climate House, in an exhibition prepared by the pioneer of environmental art Newton Harrison (2022). This year she also prepared a new series on microplastics in our water systems for the Pluto Gallery in Bonn in collaboration with PhD students and professors of bio-sciences from the University of Trier. Her latest academic book on the impact of art on food systems will be published by Routledge Press in September 2022.

 

www.barbarabenish.com