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Sadie Benning's Play Pause Opens at the Whitney Museum
Untitled, 2001-06, from Play Pause 2006. Gouache on paper , Dimensions Variable. Collection of the artist. Drawings for two-channel video projection with sound, black-and-white and color, 29 minutes. Directed by Sadie Benning, in collaboration with Solveig Nelson. Collection of the artists. © Sadie Benning.
NEW YORK, NY.- First shown at the Whitney in the 1993 Biennial, Sadie Benning now presents her latest video installation Play Pause (2006) as part of the Whitney’s Contemporary Series. Recognized for her experimental narrative videos, which she started making in the late 1980s, Benning’s two-channel, thirtyminute video departs from her earlier work, cutting together hundreds of the artist’s gouache drawings of urban landscapes, figures, and abstractions. This is Benning’s first solo museum exhibition in New York. Play Pause opens April 22 and runs through summer in the Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Lobby Gallery.

Play Pause is arranged alongside an original score comprised of ambient field recordings as well as Benning's own drumbeats and electronic percussion. Directed in collaboration with Solveig Nelson, Play Pause chronicles experiences of city life, building on scenes devoid of dialogue but rich with nuances of both personal and political interconnectivity. With its fragmented split-screen perspective, durational takes of still drawings, and occasional use of monochrome color filters, Play Pause speaks to the heightening of perception that accompanies periods of loss. Scrolls of dashes and floating shapes paired with the video’s sex sequences consider how fantasy and abstraction mediate everyday realities. Play Pause premiered as part of the solo exhibition Sadie Benning: Suspended Animation at Wexner Center for the Arts (2007).

Tina Kukielski, senior curatorial assistant at the Whitney and organizer of the exhibition, notes: “Since the videos of Sadie Benning first screened when the artist was still a teenager, Benning’s work has been prefaced by her biography. Known for her performative and experimental narrative videos, like It Wasn’t Love (1992) and Flat is Beautiful (1998) shown respectively in the 1993 and 2000 Biennials, Benning has emerged as an artist whose work wrestles with complex questions about human identity as it unfolds across both a personal and collective terrain. However, her latest video installation, Play Pause (2006), complicates previous a priori autobiographical readings of her work, opening up new ways to consider the artist’s subjectivity, and by extension our own.”

Sadie Benning (b. 1973) was born in Madison, Wisconsin, grew up in Milwaukee, and now divides her time between New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Benning has been the recipient of a Rockefeller Grant (1992), a Wexner Center Media Arts Residency Award (2003-4), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2005). She is a graduate of Bard College where she now is Co-Chair of Film/Video in the MFA program. Benning’s work has screened internationally at museums, film festivals, and universities, including the Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, and Dia Foundation for the Arts. Her work was included in the 1993 and 2000 Biennial Exhibitions as well as The American Century exhibitions at the Whitney. Recent solo exhibitions have been organized by Orchard Gallery (2007) and Wexner Center for the Arts (2007). Benning is also a former member and co-founder, with Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fateman, of the electronic music group Le Tigre.



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