Paul Stephen Benjamin
In a 64-monitor, 3-channel video installation titled God Bless America, Paul Stephen Benjamin constructs a contemplative space in which ideas about race and patriotism commune and collide. Configured in a U-shape, the flickering red, white and blue images bring to mind a cathedral apse or chapel, and its electronic presentations of Aretha Franklin and Lil Wayne provide a new, American homily.
Benjamin addresses the manifold expressions of black identity in video installation, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and mixed media works. In formally beautiful works, Benjamin invites the view to consider the impossibility of any singular expression of blackness while drawing on historical cultural representations.
This exhibition is in conjunction with ATLANTA CELEBRATES PHOTOGRAPHY.
Benjamin was the recipient of an ARTADIA award in 2014. Feb-April 2016 Benjamin exhibited his solo exhibition Come Over at The Mayors Office of Cultural Affairs Gallery 72 in downtown Atlanta, GA. His work has been on exhibit at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center in the Exquisite Corpse and the Coloring exhibitions. He was also featured in the group exhibition Emerging Artist Award Winners 15th Year Retrospective Exhibition at The Swan Coach House. Among his awards to date are the Winnie B. Chandler Fellowship, Diasporal Rhythms Artists Recognition Award, Hambidge Fellowship, The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center Studio Program and the Forward Arts Emerging Artists Award. Congratulations to Poem 88 artist Paul Stephen Benjamin, recent recipient of a Working Artist Project Fellowship (2017) at The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA-Ga).
Pictured above and below, his work Black is the Color (2014) recently was exhibited at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA from December 2015 to June 2016.
"Here, antiquated televisions of various shapes and sizes are organized into uneven columns. Each screen repeats a portion of Nina Simone's 1959 Town Hall Performance of "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair." The artist has edited the film to create delays between the monitors, refashioning the song -- a folk duet of Scottish and Appalachian origin -- into a haunting round. Blackness and performativity shift to the forefront as the performance repeats, casting shadows that fill the gallery. The analog equipment, and scattered, tangled cords also point toward the deteriorating nature of the endlessly looping work."
Black is the Color, 2014
Looped video, salvaged televisions and cords
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