Fiction is a Terrible Enemy. Will Benedict


Fiction is a Terrible Enemy has been the solo show of Californian artist Will Benedict, organized in Rome by Giuliani Foundation. The thread of works, including videos, gouache, and posters, is the investigation of the relationship between reality and fiction, triggering a reflection on the dangers of the stories we tell ourselves to live serene.

The title is based on a deep criticism of Trump’s policy, in fact, after the election, the President’s press office had begun with the phrase “We have alternative facts”, accusing the media of playing down on the number of the ceremonial participants, also declaring that it was the greatest mobilization of all time. All of this clearly describes the modus operandi of the current US administration: the alternative to the facts is fiction. Just a year earlier, Trump had called himself a Law & Order candidate citing, for the younger, a famous TV show, but in fact, adopting a reputed Republican Nixon phrase during his election campaign in the late 1960s. According to the artist, this seemingly innocuous expression could become a political short cut to exert overwhelming pressure on millions of people.

Will Benedict has chosen the Giuliani Foundation for previewing the new Wolf Eyes music video: Enemy Ladder (2017), from the album I AM A PROBLEM, a selection of clips collected in previous years. The artist’s films often come up with codified formulations of journalism, hence, technically recognizable. But the way these traditional shapes hybridize with parodistic aspects of a parallel reality, or with a science fiction future, produces a feeling of strangeness and causes an unexpected narcissistic look. Through a hypnotic loop, the artist urges us to look in the mirror and laugh at ourselves. He invites us to break down the reality in which we are immersed and feel disgusted, as in the case of The Bed That Eats (2015) where the candy bed, the frame of so many #sundaymorning, posted by food and fashion bloggers, turns into a dead creature. The luxury of the B&B, left to its destiny, becomes begging, degrading and even slurry. These images, coupled with the giant golden “M” of the famous fast food chain, clearly constitute a denunciation at the time of consumerism and the unstoppable bulimia that the system has produced.

Through a brief interlude of gouache we get a more contemplative dimension: for a moment we can pull the breath and recover the distance with the work, even though the hybrid overlay approach does not leave us. Each two-dimensional work is actually a stratification of layer and, once again, it’s as if we were watching multiple channels simultaneously. Untitled (2014), for example, is an illustration in which the artist seeks to capture the movement of the human body; in fact, we who see the man’s shoulders of almost natural size think we are in the street behind him, but the perspective combined with the glass and aluminum frame, inevitably refers to the Street View spy look or some surveillance camera.

The concept of “Other”, on the other hand, is the basis of the videos produced for the album I AM A PROBLEM of the post-industrial / noise band Wolf Eyes. Two films clearly linked to topical issues such as terrorism, immigration, protectionism and redefinition of geopolitical boundaries. In Enemy Ladder (2017) – second work commissioned by the band, and projected in preview right during the show, indoor and outdoor mixe: under a ceaseless rain, the special team S.W.A.T. is captured in an epic moment, in assault, ready to take away a dangerous gang, which remains an invisible enemy for us. Inside the apartment, safe and hot, we only see a woman reading a book, careless, while children watch tv. And here is the overturn between reality and fiction: who looks at what? It’s as if we saw the actors of a police fiction breaking into our home to keep us safe from real life, while on TV, two poodles contend for the presidential armchair.

In T.O.D.D. (2016) the dichotomy I/Other is definitely more explicit, thanks also to the form in which the meeting is presented. This is a classic TV show, well known to everyone: the talk show. In the specific case, journalist Charlie Rose, conducts his personal show, and in front of him, interviewed on the issue of immigration, there is the other, his guest, who is literally an alien. What we see through the insisted close-up is just the look of a man, and his incredible firmness in answering personal and painful questions, just like any other guest. It is uncomfortable to remind us that the other is us, especially if we think that the video is placed after the bloody facts of Paris, and with the bent Eiffel Tour – or almost imploded – into a spiral, referring to reality is inevitable. A link between the two film is the work by Wolfgang Breuer, No title (2011): an alarm with a spray diffuser, as if the police were a portable device, a handbag accessory, capable of spreading hygiene and security with a simple gesture.

Toilets not Temples (2014) is the latest video in the standings, but in fact it is the first work to affirm the fruitful collaboration between Will Benedict and Wolf Eyes, in fact, the artist was contacted by the band after choosing the song “Black Vomit” for this film. Toilets not Temples is a world tour through reportage and interviews on food policies and food distribution across countries: from Norwegian salmon farms to Indian onion crops, from Californian wine to the most varied genetically modified foods, to get to the monstrous creatures, half the mouse and half that, as in The Walking Dead, multiply, devouring humanity.

The visual tension that is created in Will Benedict’s video collages is, in effect, a political and social denunciation, not even too veiled, on the Western life system that impoverishes terrestrial resources and gives rise to monsters in the intermittent light of Law & Order.


Fondazione Giuliani, Will Benedict, The Bed that Eats (2015). video, 7min


Fondazione Giuliani, Will Benedict, The Bed that Eats (2015). video, 7min


Fondazione Giuliani, Will Benedict, I AM A PROBLEM (Enemy Ladder) 2017 video, 3.30min


Fondazione Giuliani, Will Benedict, I AM A PROBLEM (T.O.D.D.) 2016 video, 7min


Fondazione Giuliani, Will Benedict, Stop and Frisk (2013) poster su compensato 140×100 cm

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