L. Cohen

James Benning
USA 2017

On the left, a yellow jerrican and two tires leaning against three rusty barrels. On the right, an abandoned combine harvester in a patch of untended hay. Behind, a hillock with a line of electricity poles hides a car park, where only the tops of a few vehicles are visible. Crows are croaking in a hazy summer sky in the centre of which snowy peaks appear – a mirage perhaps. Those who know the work of James Benning will sense how many unobtrusive presences this barren Oregon landscape harbours. Those who are entering it for the first time will understand, quite naturally, that filmmaking can find its full force – as Benning tirelessly teaches and practices – simply “by looking and listening”. In truth, the initiated have no advantage over novices. All are on equal footing if they deploy the intuitive knowledge passed down by Thoreau and Bergson, where the secret organization of phenomena emerges out of a long-sustained attention in which the landscape is a function of time – geological, historical and biographical, each new film bringing into play references inherent to the entire oeuvre. It is worth knowing that the title of the film echoes the last line of a famous song used on the soundtrack of ONE WAY BOOGIE WOOGIE (1977/2005/2012): “sincerely, L. Cohen”. (Antoine Thirion)

With O Panama
In the presence of James Benning.

  • James Benning
James Benning

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