02nd Jul - 05th Sep 2010
Three ramshackle wooden cabins, assembled by the artist from discarded wood and salvaged building materials, invite the visitor to explore. Inside, flickering 16mm films reveal the lives of modern-day hermits who live in isolated spots in Northern Europe.
Origin of the Species (2008) portrays an elderly amateur inventor and Darwin enthusiast living alone in the Scottish highlands, who devises his own technologies for day-to-day subsistence whilst pondering the workings of the universe and the scope of human knowledge. His monologue ranges from animal trapping to Big Bang theory. This is My Land (2006) observes the daily routine of self-sufficient Jake Williams, living in Aberdeenshire; whilst Sørdal (2008) focuses on an abandoned film-set found while searching for a hermit in Norway.
The subjects of the films offer a collective resistance to today’s consumer driven lifestyles. Rivers was inspired by Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), from whose work the exhibition title comes. Rivers says that ‘many of his books focussed on individuals choosing to live out in the wilderness – often people who had had a taste of urban society and yearned for something more solitary’.
All three films are made using an old Bolex camera, which has a very particular quality that cannot be digitally constructed. Projected in the environment of the cabins, they offer a unique audio, visual and tactile experience.
Ben Rivers (born Somerset, 1972), lives and works in London. Rivers’ previous solo exhibitions in the UK include: A World Rattled of Habit at A Foundation, Liverpool, 2009; Origin of the Species, Kate MacGarry, London, 2009; On Overgrown Paths, Permanent Gallery, Brighton and The Regency Town House, Hove, 2008. In 2008 his work was screened as part of Nought to Sixty, at the ICA, London, and at the 52nd BFI London Film Festival. Rivers won the Tiger Award at the 2008 International Film Festival Rotterdam and is recipient of the London Artist Film and Video Award (LAFVA). Origin of the Species was funded by Arts Council England, with the support of Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network. Ben Rivers is represented by Kate MacGarry. www.benrivers.com
On Overgrown Paths is a Measure touring exhibition taking place in Bradford, the world's first UNESCO City of Film.