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US sculptor Anne Truitt and British painter Rose Wylie are both filmed in the studio as they reflect on life and creativity in sensitive and absorbing portraits by filmmakers Jem Cohen (Anne Truitt, Working) and Ben Rivers (What Means Something). It is hoped that Ben Rivers will be in conversation in person following the screenings.
Anne Truitt, Working
This short portrait of artist Anne Truitt (1921-2004) consists of an interview and 16mm footage made in and around her studio at the Yaddo artist colony, as well as footage from her home studio in Washington D.C. Rather than an attempt to depict her art, which is in many respects un-photographable, the core of the film is found in Truitt speaking about the course and meaning of her work. Cohen says, “I was honored to know Anne Truitt, and doubly so when she allowed me to make a short record of her presence and thoughts. I felt as if she opened her hand and showed, in a profound but down to earth way, the compass by which she navigated”.
What Means Something
A portrait of the painter Rose Wylie. Ben Rivers notes, “I met Rose a few years ago and we got along well. I went to visit her studio and she watched some of my films. Happily she liked them. So I asked her if I could make a film about her and she agreed. The film, finally, is a meeting between two friends.
Much like when Rose begins a painting, making a filmic portrait is an open engagement; the exact form will reveal itself in the making. I began by visiting Rose repeatedly at her house in Kent, filming her in her studio, house and garden. The film grew from modest beginnings and became much longer than intended, mainly because I wanted to keep returning to see Rose. She gave me complete access to filming her painting – so there are long sequences simply watching this process, alongside more relaxed times reading, looking at sketchbooks, talking about painting and other things, looking at source material and sitting in her jungle-like garden.”
Filmmaker/photographer Jem Cohen’s feature-length films include Museum Hours, Counting, Chain, Benjamin Smoke, Instrument,
and World Without End (No Reported Incidents). Shorts include Lost Book Found, Little Flags, and Anne Truitt – Working. His films are in the collections of NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Jewish Museum, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, and Melbourne’s Screen Gallery. They have been broadcast by PBS, Arte, and the Sundance Channel. He’s had retrospectives at Harvard Film Archive, London’s Whitechapel Gallery, Indielisboa, BAFICI, Oberhausen, Gijon, and Punto de Vista Film Festivals.
Ben Rivers was born in Somerset, UK in 1972. He lives and works in London. His films are typically intimate portrayels of solotary beings or isolated communities; his practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Rivers uses these themes as a strating point from which to imagine alternative narratives and existences in marginal worlds.
Recent exhibitions include the EYE Art & Film Prize with Hito Steyerl and Wang Bing, Amsterdam, (2018); Urth, Renaissance Society, Chicago, (2016); Islands, Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany (2016); Edgelands, Camden Arts Centre, London, (2015); Fable, Temporary Gallery, Cologne, (2014). In 2013 he was awarded the Artangel Open Commission, the product of which, The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, was presented at the derelict BBC Television Centre in 2015 and at The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester in 2016. Ben Rivers’ first feature-length film, Two Years at Sea, was presented in September 2011 at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize.