Artist in Focus: Ben Rivers & Ben Russell

Ben Rivers (UK, 1972) and Ben Russell (US, 1976) are not unkown to the Courtisane public: their indivi- dual work has been shown on many occasions at the festival. Longtime friends, they are currently working together on the film A Spell To Ward Off the Darkness, which has provided them with the perfect alibi for a series of side projects, including the installation and someday, somehow, before the end which will premiere at Courtisane. In a spirit heir to the postwar avant-garde cinema, they both use 16mm film as their medium of choice, sharing many other common interests and concerns, from counter-culture and anthropology to a fascination with the mystical and the utopian. This fertile combination is at the centre of their film work, a self- proclaimed “participatory etnography” which examines the possibility of a spiritual existence in response to a world that increasingly seems to draw closer to the secular. During the festival these themes and questions will serve as guidelines for a diverse range of public events, including an exhibition, an evening of perfor- mances and two screening programmes which Ben and Ben have set up in dialogue with each other’s work.