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Helen Benigson brings weightlifting women to Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Helen Benigson, Travelling to Africa via a Machine Called a Sunbed, 2013 video still courtesy the artist.

WAKEFIELD.- Witness the extraordinary sights and sounds of weightlifting women amidst the bronzes of Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man, in Helen Benigson’s Breathe Harder performance at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), on Saturday 2 August 2014.

Artist Benigson, aka Princess Bellsize Dollar, explores weight by pitching the human body against sculptural form, in this live site-specific performance in the grounds of YSP.

In Breathe Harder, Benigson shows six female characters lifting weights, dancing and performing alongside Hepworth’s iconic sculptures. Pre-made audio recordings provide the soundtrack to the performance, alongside the amplified sounds of the performers’ own physical exertion – echoing Hepworth’s desire for her work to be ‘allowed to breathe’ outdoors.

Within the public context of YSP, the performers take on a sculptural presence as visitors watch them at all angles in a theatrical spectacle, both fictional and absurd.

Helen Benigson says: “I am really excited to be working on this site-specific performance at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and to provoke a relationship between life, object and body. I have invited one female ‘protagonist’ to join the weightlifters, who will bring to life a scripted performance, talking about abstract weight in different forms: her experience of giving birth, getting a spray tan and attending a weight loss support class in preparation for her wedding. This scripted performance will interrupt and rupture the weightlifting at both a corporeal and also linguistic, guttural level.

“YSP is a really interesting context to work within and I feel really lucky to be working with such an amazing group of strong, female weightlifters alongside the extraordinary sculpture The Family of Man.”

Born in 1985 and based in London, Benigson is a video artist and rapper whose interdisciplinary practice includes performance, video installation, printmaking, text, sound and music.

As a video artist and a rapper, Helen Benigson’s current practice has an emphasis on performance within the space of the screen and the negotiation of intimacy, territory and body within cyberspace. Benigson creates immersive video and sound environments, which become layered sets for scripted and choreographed performances using a cast of female performers and volunteers. Often her videos and performances use her own body and persona as the protagonist, or actors and dancers who become stand-ins ‘Helens’, as well as sets and props, creating frenzied, schizophrenic performances, referencing pop culture, contemporary game playing and animation. These are played out in messy, often awkward, digital carnivals, which repetitively enact the blurred boundaries between performer, producer and spectator, intrinsic to on-line video sharing.

Benigson was recently involved in Platform, a residency programme at Sheffield’s Site Gallery. Recent solo exhibitions include: Performa.13 After Hours, New York; Going to Africa via a Machine Called a Sunbed, at Meantime Project Space, Cheltenham; the Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town; and Palm Trees and Poker Players at UCA, Farnham. Recent group exhibitions include: Ericka Beckman: Image games – work in context at Tate Modern; Videonale.14 at the Kunst Museum, Bonn; and Videocracy at The Centre for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv.

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