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JH

Bennett and Vor-stellen Partnership

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Still from Gregory Bennett's animated film, Folding of the Time, 2024. Courtesy of Gregory Bennett. Still from Gregory Bennett's animated film, Folding of the Time, 2024. Courtesy of Gregory Bennett. Still from Gregory Bennett's animated film, Folding of the Time, 2024. Courtesy of Gregory Bennett. Still from Gregory Bennett's animated film, Folding of the Time, 2024. Courtesy of Gregory Bennett. Still from Gregory Bennett's animated film, Folding of the Time, 2024. Courtesy of Gregory Bennett. Still from Gregory Bennett's animated film, Folding of the Time, 2024. Courtesy of Gregory Bennett. Installation view: Gregory Bennett, Vor-stellen, Folding of the Time music video launch, 20 April – 2 May 2024, Te Wai Ngutu Kākā Gallery.   Installation view: Gregory Bennett, Vor-stellen, Folding of the Time music video launch, 20 April – 2 May 2024, Te Wai Ngutu Kākā Gallery.   Installation view: Gregory Bennett, Vor-stellen, Folding of the Time music video launch, 20 April – 2 May 2024, Te Wai Ngutu Kākā Gallery.

These scenes exploit frenetic writhing energy so that your eye constantly shifts back and forth between micro- and macrocosm, detail and wider vista; and focussed on either solo hyperactive figures or all-encompassing panoramas; towers of densely stacked primitive machinery that constantly turns, or lifts up and down—with inverted skeletal handlike forms that clench and unclench—and waving leafless trees or inverted roots.

Tamaki Makaurau

 

Gregory Bennett, Vor-stellen

Folding of the Time

 

20 April - 4 May 2024

Screened in the large darkened space of Gallery Two as an accompaniment to the 13.28 min. long Folding of the Time single—taken from the Parallelograms album of Flying Nun band, Vor-stellen (made up of Brendan Moran, Stephen Reay and Jared Johanson)—Gregory Bennett’s complex animated film has considerable impact when projected on to the large end wall of Gallery Two. Very different from say, a video on a single monitor on a lone plinth.

Bennett’s videos of highly energised, orchestrated male figures are of course well known to Auckland art audiences. This one is unusual in the sense that Vor-stellen made the musical single first, and then approached him for a short movie to help promote it.
Moving from left to right in a continuous slow pan, Bennett presents a series of dramatically lit panoramic vistas of varied moving activities.

These scenes exploit frenetic writhing energy so that your eye constantly shifts back and forth between micro- and macrocosm, detail and wider vista; and thus focussed on either solo hyperactive figures or all-encompassing panoramas. We also see towers of densely stacked primitive machinery that constantly turns, or lifts up and down—with inverted skeletal handlike forms that clench and unclench—and waving leafless trees or inverted roots.

Now and then the figures crawl, stomp or run around like a herd of barely controllable animals, collectively creating an unstable group identity with changing contours. The varied and spread-out multiple actions effortlessly lock in with the crisp rhythmic pulses of Vor-stellen’s mesmerising sonorous music.

The fast dramatic activities devised by Bennett tend to take place on flat tablelike shelves, hovering flat discs, or within grids of stacked up pigeon-holes lit from the side to cast deep shadows.

Sometimes though, the ‘performers’ are doubled-up, rolling and tumbling in mid-air or languidly reclining, floating around tethered to geometrical forms, or imprisoned within large translucent spheres. On one occasion the physical scale dramatically changes, with one giant red figure being suddenly seen standing on a disc with a telescope on a stand, where the horizontal tube maliciously slams into the figure’s face.

Occasionally there is an amusing stiffness to these figures, a subtle lack of suppleness that enforces a sense of the ‘old-style’ robotic. They are not loose or floppy, like say puppets would be, but rigid close to where the moving components intersect, and with the restrictions of their programmed kinetic cycles, exuding through a ‘group mind’ a repudiation of any sense of free will.

To a limited degree Bennett’s videos would still be compelling without the music, but Vor-stellen’s rhythmic hypnotic tunes introduce an immersive ambience where the viewer’s body becomes more involved and less spatially distant. It acquires a muscular empathy relating to the constantly moving parts, so they become compulsive viewing. The simplicity and looping repetition of might be called ‘kinetic circuits’ are part of that.

John Hurrell

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