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I’m still new here

Anton Benois and Beth Dillon

29 June- 9 July 2016
Opening Night: Tuesday 28 June 2016; 5-7 PM

'I'm still new here’ links two bodies of work created by collaborative duo Anton Benois and Beth Dillon during their time in residence at Listhus Arthouse, Olafsfjordur, North Iceland, and ARE Holland, Enschede, the Netherlands. Works of video, photography, costumed performance and sculpture play with constructions of the wilderness and the recurring figure of the nomad in fashion and tourism media.

This collection of landscape studies take as their central motif the figure of an artificial Dieffenbachia fern. To Dillon and Benois, the artificial fern symbolises the escapist fantasies of travel, and the disorienting effects of constant relocation on one’s sense of identity. The artificial fern - evergreen, eternal implant, appears in their work again and again as an icon of commodified nature, and a fetishized object of the lure of elsewhere.

Image: courtesy of the artist.

#implant by Ellen Hewitt

To whom it may concern, 

There’s a problem with existing in one place for too long. Roots, eventually, rot. Despite planting ourselves in our best environment, we wither. The rhythm of the daily grind eventually turns us strange colours and makes us slump. Slowly and inevitably it sucks the moisture from our limbs and souls until we are wrinkled and falling ungracefully to pieces. 

So we rip our roots from our allocated slice of the earth and implant ourselves in far flung places. In distant and unfamiliar soils, we transform ourselves into foreign objects. For a time, we live in a new reality, one where we no longer rot. We remember what it feels like to experience the new, the different and the uncertain. 

It’s an environment that seems to be made easier to adapt to if we document everything around us, including the self. We must show the world and ourselves how we have stopped rotting. We have to duplicate these images of self as nomad, traveller, tourist and insert it into everything. No surface, no object, no social media page, no fabric left unmarked. It is this complete enveloping that absolutely ensures we are able to recognise ourselves as living rather than dying. 

Sunrise, sunset. 

We continue to take selfies, watching ourselves, before finally we return. But now the patch of the earth you ordinarily inhabit is the foreign thing. Everything seems different and new. Even the movements of the clouds. The passing breeze. Forcing yourself to physically wander, instead of just wonder, makes you realise that

Yes, everyday can be a holiday. Adventure is all around us. If you take the time to open your eyes, and see. 

Love, #implant.

This essay has been produced as part of the White Cube Program






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