EventApril 6, 2014

James Benning’s Re-Creation of Easy Rider Screens at Whitney Biennial

James Benning, still from ‘Easy Rider,’ 2012. High-definition video, color, sound; 95 min. | Courtesy James Benning

On Sunday (April 6), filmmaker and CalArts School of Film/Video faculty James Benning screens his 95-minute re-creation of the late Dennis Hopper’s 1969 classic feature, Easy Rider, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York at 4 pmBenning’s film screens as part of Biennial artist Julie Ault’s Afterlife: a constellation.

For Benning’s Easy Rider (2012), the filmmaker drove across the United States and re-shot scenes in their original locations, “raising questions about the legacy of 1960s counterculture in America’s landscape today.”

More about the film from the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where it screened in 2013:

In his characteristic long takes, he for instance shows a lit-up vacancy sign while the soundtrack treats us to a line from Easy Rider: ‘You’ve got a room?’ Sometimes the images are more abstract, like the 10-minute shot of a flowing brook.

But there is always a connection with Easy Rider. For example, Benning ‘copies’ its association between a real horse and a gleaming motorcycle: both have their strength expressed in horse power. An image Benning returns to five times is that of a camp fire so that viewers can think back to the scene in which Jack Nicholson expresses one of the film’s themes to Billy (Dennis Hopper) saying: “What you represent to them is freedom.”

With songs by Sadie Benning, Chan Marshall, Suzy Soundz and The Sibleys – the music Benning listened to on the road.

Last fall, Benning exhibited his film, Stemple Pass, in Tijuana, Mexico, and was recognized at the 70th Venice Film Festival for his onscreen persona in Gabe Klinger’s documentary Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater.

Event Details

James Benning's 'Easy Rider'

April 6, 4 pm Kaufman Astoria Studios Film and Video Gallery, Second Floor Whitney Museum of American Art 945 Madison Ave. at 75th St., New York Free with Museum admission. Admittance is on a first-come, first-seated basis until capacity is reached.

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