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8th March 2016

Review: Ben Rivers – The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers

An inside out exploration of storytelling and film-making at The Whitworth

On entering the main part of this exhibition we’re immediately struck by a beautifully lit jungle of quite clearly reclaimed wood and chipboard. Wood showing evidence of re-use, notes scrawled on by marker pen, random bits of paint, bits of leftover wallpaper and all joined together in a very mismatched way to create this random and exciting looking jungle-like facade. There’s a strong sense of  the inside out and back to front before we’ve even begun and it seems we have to walk around the back to get to the entrance, which prepares us for the unique experience Ben Rivers has created.

The arrows on the wall dictate the viewing order, which is vaguely left to right, back to front, with four of these wooden jungle facades to navigate around. Inside each wooden structure is a film screening. The video works themselves are heavily built around a focus on storytelling, some fact and some fiction. There are some main aspects that tie these films together: the setting of Morocco, the theme of storytelling, and the ‘collapsed form of seeing-in’; the invitation of the viewer to see behind the scenes.

All of the films in this exhibition display this ‘collapsed seeing-in’ in some form or other, whether its the voice of the director instructing the actors, a clapperboard in vision, or the inclusion of all other elements that would usually be edited out. This makes for an un-edited, raw account of the film experience. It is clear that we are experiencing both the film and the making of the film simultaneously, which is complemented by the use of salvaged wood and film set bits, because it is an indiscreet viewing experience, unrefined and unpolished.

The general feeling is a sense of involvement and that is what is great about this exhibition; a feeling of exploration, of journey and discovery, and all the excitement that goes with it.

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