"What did the first brain to find itself on this planet do? Presumably it was astonished at being here and hadn't a clue what to make of itself and the filthy vehicle beneath its feet. In the meantime people have come to terms with their brains by regarding them as so unimportant as to be not even worth ignoring, by making rastas of themselves (bottommost: blackish pole; uppermost; the president of the senate, say) and by turning the so-unjustly beloved nature into the backdrop for a right farce. Although this doubtless not especially heroic way of avoiding a dilemma that still receives insufficient appreciation has become quite void of any charm now that it is so utterly predictable (how infantile bathroom scales are!), for this self-same reason it is, however, highly suitable for the conducting of certain procedures." - Walter Serner in Last Loosening Manifesto (1916)

"The concept of reality is a highly variable value, and entirely dependent on the brain and the requirements of the brain which considers it." - Richard Hülsenbeck in En Avant Dada (1920)

"After all, what is an art object, in any discipline,
but a beautifully woven system of life-giving lies that burst with potentiality?"
- Olchar E. Lindsann in Cheating Art History:
Strategies on the Fight Against Modernism ( ADa 91 )

"The pressure of occupation and the incessant stream of impressions pouring into our consciousness through all the gateways of knowledge make modern existence hazardous in many ways. Most persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves. The premature death of millions is primarily traceable to this cause." - Nikola Tesla in My Inventions (1919)

"I am not an artist because I refuse to be bored." - David Beris Edwards in BARM ( ADa 92 )

"Every manifestation of our life is accompanied by noise." - Luigi Russolo in L'arte dei rumori ( 1913 )

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mike Benevenia

Mike Benevenia and I met at the Civic Square Building last Thursday to introduce to each other what we have been studying at our time at the Mason Gross School. The recording of our conversation was lost, or never recorded during our meeting due to technical issues we had faced with a version of Garage Band. Charred remains can be found here.

Benevenia is a sculptor and painter working out of New Brunswick. After trip to Madrid in 2006, images of bulls, bull fighting and skeletal matadors appear often in Mike's paintings. They join various drawings and sculptures which contain vague notions of Christian mythology, which he acknowledges is present in the work, but says is a residual product of his upbringing and childhood. These figures take form utilizing welded steel taken from scrap or junk freely available.

In a similar approach to the use of ephemera in mail-art, Benevenia has taken his technique with junk steel to painting by mixing objects he finds such as bottle caps, shards of glass, bottle remains, and q-tips with paint and glue. Making most of his large works in the summer such as the aforementioned painting, Mike says it is one of his well liked pieces, though he was frustrated with the tediousness of its construction and was not sure if he wanted to make more. Part of his frustration comes from the painting courses he has taken at the Mason Gross School. He feels that much of the painting one and two courses are too occupied with painting dozens of still life type paintings, without making room for other forms of painting, experimentation in painting, or the teaching of specific painting techniques. It is this obstruction that has kept him from taking the courses. Mike's painting reminded me of Jan Svenkmajer who I then suggested for Mike to view. The shorts contain 'bits of junk' to be used for stop motion animations where human like figures devour their junk selves to further destroy the junk and create more human figures, similar to Mike's work in aesthetic and the materials used.

Benevenia had shown some of his sketches and collages where many consisted of images of animal carcasses, depictions of severed limbs, and dismembered bodies. An entire page was devoted to a May 5th 2008 Targum article where a man had jumped infront of an Acela train in order to end his life and scatter his remains along the tracks running through the station. The article had stuck out to me as I had saved it as well, amazed the authorities walked down the main steps of the station with semi-transparent red biohazard bags containing the remains. These images had me suggest to Mike to check out the Viennese Actionists such as Hermann Nitsch who had performed a ritual with a slaughtered lamb at the Round House on the Cook/Douglass Campus at Rutgers back in the 70's. They also lead me to show the PostNeoAbsurdist form of the meat poem, last performed at the Mason Gross Galleries at 'Morphemic Clamour' April 2007 and of which I have most frequently seen performed by Bradley Chriss. Meat poems are multi-faceted, and only require meat and text. All other registers of the performance are up to determination by the performer.

For his Visual Arts thesis, Benevenia plans to expand on his sculpture-costume that he began making his first year at Mason Gross. At the Livingston Arts Building, he had once staged a performance with a wearable bull sculpture and suggests that this might make a reappearance.

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