Earth Needs More Magicians - Camden Art Centre

This solo exhibition brought several of Ben Rivers’ works into dialogue with one another, including previous seminal pieces and new films produced that year.

Rivers’ practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Often following and filming subjects who have in some way separated themselves from society, he creates oblique narratives, imagining alternative existences in marginal worlds. Rivers uses near-antique cameras and hand develops the 16mm film, resulting in films which show evidence of the elements they have been exposed to. The materiality of the medium forms part of the narrative.

For his exhibition at Camden Art Centre, Rivers produced two major new film works: the first was developed from a trip to the remote sub-tropical island of Tanna in the South Pacific, whose ecosystem had, since his film documentation, been irrevocably devastated by Cyclone Pam; the second a portrait of painter Rose Wylie at work in her studio, reflecting the meeting of two artists and their creative processes.

Alongside his solo presentation, Ben Rivers curated a group show based on the idea of ‘edgelands’. The artist-curated exhibition brings together works – such as J G Ballard’s Concrete Island, Helen Levitt’s New York street photos, works by self-taught photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Keith Arnatt’s ‘A.O.N.B. (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty)‘, and Robert Smithson’s photos and text piece, Tour of Monuments of the Passaic – to explore shared interests in withdrawal from the mainstream social narrative, the peripheries of society and the overlooked fringes of the city.

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Introductory Talk: Ben Rivers

Friday 25 September, 5.45 – 6.30pm / free

Ben Rivers discusses his exhibition with Erika Balsom, Lecturer in Film Studies and Liberal Arts at King’s College, London.

Teachers’ Exhibition Tour

Wednesday 30 September, 6.00 – 7.00pm / free 

A chance to discuss the exhibition and the new Teachers’ Guide with the programming team.

Films Selected b Ben Rivers

Part 1: Edgelands
Wednesday 21 October, 7.00 – 9.00pm
Venue: Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London, NW3 6DG

Camden Arts Centre and LUX present a three-part screening programme which expands on Ben Rivers’ exhibition Earth Needs More Magicians and his artist-curated exhibition Edgelands.

The first part of this series takes Edgelands as its starting point, looking at Rivers’ interest in the borders of society, both physical spaces – neglected peripheries of the city and abstractly, where individuals have withdrawn from mainstream culture.

Curated by Ben Rivers with an introduction by George Clark, Assistant Curator of Film at TATE

Jaunt, Andrew Kotting, 1995 (6mins)
Rehearsals for Retirement, Phil Solomon, 2007 (10mins)
Little Stabs of Happiness, Ken Jacobs, 1963 (15mins)
In the Street, Helen Levitt, 1948 (16mins)
Fire Child, Gordon Matta-Clark, 1971 (10mins)
Swamp, Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt, 1971 (6mins)
The Coming Race, Ben Rivers, 2006 (5mins)

Talk: Ken Worpole: modern nature - landscape & aesthetics on the edge

Wednesday 4 November, 7:00 – 8.00pm 

Writer Ken Worpole looks at Ben Rivers’ work and his curated exhibition Edgelands as a starting place to consider experiments in living, life and new kinds of hope on the margins. In collaboration with photographer Jason Orton, Worpole has published two books on the aesthetics of the contemporary post-industrial landscape: 350 Miles (2005) and The New English Landscape (2014). In this talk, Worpole addresses the ways in which writers and photographers can work together in providing a more reflective, counter-intuitive approach to problematic topographies and social histories.

‘For many years, Ken Worpole has been one of the shrewdest and sharpest observers of the English social landscape.’ – The Independent

Ken Worpole is the author of many books on architecture, landscape and public policy. Ken is Emeritus Professor, Cities Institute London Metropolitan University, and has served on the UK government’s Urban Green Spaces Task Force, on the Expert Panel of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and as an adviser to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Book Launch

Wednesday 14 December, 7.00 – 8.45pm

To launch his first monograph Ways of Worldmaking, artist Ben Rivers and design and art collective åbäke discuss the book with Sophie Williamson, Programme Curator: Exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre. This book has been made in conjunction with Rivers’ recent exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, Earth Needs More Magicians with new essays by writers Ed Halter, Melissa Gronland, Renee Gladman and Andréa Picard, alongside transcripts and research material. This talk will be followed by a book signing.

This book has been designed by åbäke and published by Mousse Publishing in collaboration with Camden Arts Centre, Kunstverein in Hamburg, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and La Triennale di Milano.