James Benning: ALLENSWORTH

James Benning: ALLENSWORTH

In person: James Benning

“The artist is someone who pays attention and reports back.”—James Benning 
Structuralist, avant-garde, minimalist… These are adjectives often applied in the process of describing the LA-based artist-filmmaker-educator-activist James Benning. For the last five decades, Benning has been an earnest and prolific practitioner of art and film. His innovation and highly refined creative language come from his candid diligence and genuine curiosity. His consistency in filmmaking is affirmation aligned with his work ethics and modest approach to exercising his right and responsibility of being an artist and filmmaker.  
Born into a working-class, immigrant family in Milwaukee, Benning grew up directly experiencing and understanding the roles and impacts of capitalism and how the brutality of poverty deeply effects individual, community, and/or society, especially in relations to race and racism. Activist turned artist-filmmaker, Benning creates works founded on substantive narratives, manifested through heavily form-based aesthetic language that can potentially minimize the narratives. The evidence is there: Benning wants the audience’s deliberate engagement and participation while they experience his work. 
Benning’s recent film ALLENSWORTH is a remarkable collage of images and sounds, created from his extensive survey of a ghost town founded in 1908 which became the first municipality in California to be run by African Americans. The crucial historical context, the fundamental component of the film, is reported to us by Benning via the meticulous, bold, and sophisticated language he employs in filmmaking. 

Programmed and note by Hyesung ii. 
DIRECTED BY: James Benning. WITH: Faith Johnson. 2022. 65 min. USA. Color. English. DCP. 

Academy Museum film programming generously funded by the Richard Roth Foundation. 

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