Vielmetter Los Angeles presented works by Sadie Benning in Unlimited for Art Basel 2019.
The Fog is a new installation of 33 resin works on panel by Sadie Benning. Each panel is composed of layers of clear resin and pigment prints on transparencies. The panels are arranged in sequences, such that the installation unrolls with a unique temporality, suggesting the durational experience of watching a film. The title refers to the feeling of being mired in a suspended atmosphere, something that obscures and confuses perception, interactions, and thought—a physical manifestation of a state of mental haze. To create this work, Benning used digital and found images that are often degraded by generations of transfer from their original material format to their current encoding. As a result, the images are often hazy, their details made soft. The title, The Fog, also refers to the 1980 horror film of the same name by John Carpenter. And there is a sort of horror in this bewildering and puzzling environment: that of the ever-present anxiety of contemporary politics and the resulting sense of uncertainty, which pervades everyday life.
Over the last three decades, Sadie Benning (b. 1973, Milwaukee, WI) has made work that ranges from lo-fi, experimental videos exploring queer sexuality and identity to large, wall-mounted works that simultaneously explore abstraction, representation, sculpture and painting. The diversity of Sadie’s practice reflects the artist’s ongoing interest in ambiguity and in-between-ness. Sadie’s installation for the 2019 edition of Unlimited represents a dynamic material shift in their practice. These resin and photograph works forge a direct connection between Benning’s more recent 2-D works and their work in video made in the 1990’s and 2000s.
Benning’s work consistently investigates, editing, sequencing and the associative or narrative possibilities of images and abstractions. As their 2-D works have incorporated more photographic elements, each panel has come to represent a sort of still moment in a larger chronology of events. By arranging their works in installations where there are often long pauses (expanses of wall between panels) punctuating more staccato processions of images, Benning presents their 2-D works with a sense of controlled time, more often experienced in moving image media. In The Fog this temporality is enhanced by the layering and accumulation of images within each panel and in the progression and associations between images that develop from panel to panel.
For their 2018 solo exhibition at the Camden Art Center in London, Benning premiered their first publicly exhibited body of work composed from clear resin, pigment prints on transparencies, and paint entitled Sleep Rock. This new material approach expands the conceptual framework of Benning’s aqua-resin works on panel, which have come to include found and digital prints, small objects, and other materials over the last five years, most notably in Sadie’s 2016 solo exhibition Shared Eye at the Renaissance Society and the Kunsthalle Basel and in their work Rainy Day / Gender exhibited as part of the 2018 exhibition Trigger at the New Museum.
Benning’s work has been exhibited internationally since 1991. Recent solo exhibitions include Blinded by the Light, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects (2017); L’oeil d’espirit, Air de Paris (2016); Excuse Me Ma’am, Kaufman Repetto Milan (2016); and Green God, Mary Boone Gallery and Callicoon Fine Arts, New York (2016). Benning has also had solo exhibitions at the Renaissance Society, the Kunsthalle Basel and has been included in exhibitions at the New Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art (2009), the Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2009); the Dia Foundation for the Arts (2007); the Wexner Center for the arts (2007, 2004); and the Walker Art Center (2005). Their work has been included in many significant group exhibitions including A Shape that Stands Up, Art + Practice, Los Angeles (2016); Greater NY, MoMA Ps1, New York (2015); Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age, Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2015); the 2013 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, PA (2015); and NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash, and No Star, New Museum, New York (2013). Benning’s work was included in the 2000 and 1993 Whitney Biennials.