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Benj Gerdes Archive (Kran Film Collective)

Kran Film Collective

Populus Tremula at Scheld’apen festival

a film by
Benj Gerdes and Jennifer Hayashida
at SCHELD’APEN festival
6 – 23 September
Antwerpen

Populus Tremula is a 16mm film originating from artistic research into Swedish “Match King” Ivar Kreuger (1880 – 1932), whom The Economist in 2007 called “the world’s greatest financial swindler” and who was the founder of Svenska Tändsticksaktiebolaget (the Swedish Matchstick Corporation), today called Swedish Match. Between 1917 and 1932, Kreuger capitalized on shifts in global financial markets to control over 200 companies and establish matchstick monopolies in at least 34 countries; he borrowed money at low rates on U.S. markets and in turn loaned these funds to countries that granted him market monopolies, thereby initiating, according to some scholars, practices currently enacted by the IMF and WTO. Populus Tremula consists of contemporary footage shot in two extant Swedish Match factories in Vetlanda and Tidaholm, Sweden. Both factory locations have been active since the 19th century, and while the manufacturing process is now almost fully automated, beyond the removal of human labor, it has changed little since the early 20th century.

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Benj Gerdes

Benj Gerdes – lecture at SMFA Boston

Benj Gerdes will give a lecture on March 30 in Boston as part of the School of Museum of Fine Arts MFA Graduate Colloquium on “Artist Collectives.

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STRIKE ANYWHERE in Nottingham

Strike Anywhere
a film by
Benj Gerdes and Jennifer Hayashida
at
Radical Footage: Film and Dissent
Friday 9th March 2012
11am – 7pm
The Space, Nottingham Contemporary

A selection of short radical films and commentaries  – around the themes of anti-capitalism, protest, conflict and uprising  – will explore the medium’s potential to contribute to social-political change.  The day’s debate will be initiated by Oliver Ressler’s introduction to his films including What Would it Mean to Win? and What is Democracy? which you can watch here: http://www.ressler.at/what_is_democracy_film/

The programme includes shorts by Gary Anderson, Benj Gerdes, Neil Gray, Sacha Kahir, James Rowlins, Alexis Milne, Jordan McKenzie, Jessica Mautner, Fabienne Gautier, Irina Botea, Jacopo Natoli, Nisha Duggal. Discussions will be led by Esther Leslie (Birkbeck University of London), Martin O’Shaughnessy (Nottingham Trent University) and Gary Anderson (Liverpool Hope University/Free University of Liverpool).

Schedule Registration 10.30 for 11am start with Oliver Ressler followed by panel discussion. 1pm break for lunch (NC is near lots of city centre eateries) Film programme and discussion continues through to 6pm, socialising, networking and drinks at bar through to 7pm.

To book a place visit the Nottingham Contemporary website:

http://ncradicalaesthetics.eventbrite.com/?ebtv=C

RadicalAesthetics-RadicalArt project is based at Loughborough University School of the Arts.

Visiting Artist Talk

Duke University Department of Art, Art History, & Visual Studies
Date: 11/26/11
Venue: Duke University, Durham, NC
duke uni

Part of the 2011-12 year Visiting Artist Series
Artist Talk by Benj Gerdes & Jennifer Hayashida: Conversation between the artists, Neil DeMarchi (Professor, Department of Economics, Duke University), and Stephanie Sherman and George Sheer (Co-Directors, ‘Elsewhere’, Greensboro, NC)

Expanding the Documentary: New Media and Digital Documentary

Symposium and Exhibition
Date: 11/14/11
Venue: Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College
SUNY, Purchase, NY
expanding the documentary

Daylong symposium featuring Benj Gerdes as invited presenter and exhibition including Benj Gerdes & Jennifer Hayashida’s video essay “Strike Anywhere” (HD, 32:00, 2009).

Populus Tremula

by Benj Gerdes & Jennifer Hayashida

9-minute laser subtitled 16mm film, 2010

Populus Tremula is a 16mm film loop originating from artistic research into Swedish “Match King” Ivar Kreuger (1880 – 1932), whom The Economist in 2007 called “the world’s greatest financial swindler” and who was the founder of Svenska Tändsticksaktiebolaget (the Swedish Matchstick Corporation), today called Swedish Match. Between 1917 and 1932, Kreuger capitalized on shifts in global financial markets to control over 200 companies and establish matchstick monopolies in at least 34 countries; he borrowed money at low rates on U.S. markets and in turn loaned these funds to countries that granted him market monopolies, thereby initiating, according to some scholars, practices currently enacted by the IMF and WTO. Populus Tremula consists of contemporary footage shot in two extant Swedish Match factories in Vetlanda and Tidaholm, Sweden. Both factory locations have been active since the 19th century, and while the manufacturing process is now almost fully automated, beyond the removal of human labor, it has changed little since the early 20th century.

While the film follows the linear progression of match manufacture from timber to shrink-wrapped package ready for export, a series of superimposed textual interventions point to the ability of both capital and the nation-state to legislate and assert the monopoly capitalist’s desire, as in the case of Kreuger, to not only exploit natural resources but to appear to surpass the power of nature through myth. The conjoining of text and image is here intended to posit conflicting historical and ideological conjectures in an effort to indicate ideological fissures which in turn may spark, or tremble, present-day possibilities for contestation.

Populus Tremula & Strike Anywhere are part of an ongoing series of projects by Benj Gerdes & Jennifer Hayashida entitled “Room of the Sun.”

Populus Tremula is a 16mm film projection. Below you can watch a digital transfer of the piece in heavily-compressed HD (click fullscreen button in lower right for best image, allow to preload a little if video stutters). This file is for online viewing only and not for public presentation:

Democratic Looking

Single-channel video, 1:30, 2008

A rally, some questions. This footage was so compelling to me I built a piece out of a single shot.

Initial Exhibition: “Global Honking Ground” Yerba Buena Center/SF Cinemateque/Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA, 2008.

Because There Are So Many: Iraq

by Benj Gerdes & Jennifer Hayashida

Single-channel HD video, 8:00, 2007.

Four Iraqi men discuss their flight from Iraq following the United States invasion in 2003. Between them––an interpreter for the US Military, a computer technician for a military contractor, an english professor, and an oil ministry employee––a dialogue emerges about their lives as refugees in Sweden. They discuss their divergent approaches to coping with trauma and the representing themselves. To them, Iraq as a nation exists only in the past-tense.

While in Sweden on a research grant for an unrelated project, we read numerous articles about the status of Iraqi refugees in Sweden. Of the over 2 million people estimated to have fled Iraq since March of 2003, Sweden has accepted the third largest number of refugees (after much larger groups in Jordan and Syria). In 2006, Sweden took in approximately 9,000 refugees, whereas the U.S. has accepted only about 600 Iraqis since the start of the war. Our interest in the lives of the Iraqi refugee diaspora stems from a profound frustration with past and present U.S. foreign policy, and also a wariness regarding how Sweden’s welfare state ideology will negotiate a rapidly growing immigrant population. Södertälje, with its preexisting Assyrian community, has attracted a large proportion of the Iraqi asylum-seekers; as such, the Iraqi community in Södertälje presented us with a unique opportunity to learn more about the relationship of Swedish immigration policies to U.S. military interventionism, global migrations of people, as well as the perspectives of those affected on how the U.S. should take responsibility for its actions. Rather than positing immigration as a solution, we intend this video to take up a certain media space that has been obscured, intentionally, in the United States around images of dissent and displacement.

Terms of Service: When We Pretend, We’re in Control

Single-channel video, 5 minutes, 2005.

Terms of Service explores cordiality and a certain return of forgiveness negatively through a reading of the military-sponsored (and freely distributed) computer game America’s Army. The text is a letter from the CEO of the software company commissioned to create the game, in which he accuses players who hack the game of breaching US Military secrets. In juxtaposing this letter with the game’s content, Terms of Service attempts to demonstrate the proximity of anti-terror and copyright law. This piece is the initial chapter of a project that will deploy awkward juxtapositions to posit a series of reconciliations: between film and video, video game and documentary, and representation and annihilation.

Initial exhibition: “‘I Beg Your Pardon,’ Or the Reestablishing of Cordial Relations” Curated by Andrea Geyer for The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, New York, NY.

On the Passage of Millions of People Through a Not Brief Enough Period of Time

by Benj Gerdes & Alina Viola Grumiller

Single-channel video, 30:00, 2004.

Statement (2004)

In 2001, billionaire Michael Bloomberg used almost 75 million dollars of his own money to win election to the office of Mayor of New York City. Bloomberg paid roughly $100 for each vote he received and outspent his rival by a factor of at least 5 to 1. In doing so he set a national spending record for a municipal election.

In 2004, the Republican Party on a national level looked to New York as the staging ground for their re-nomination of President George W. Bush. In a heavily Democratic city under Republican control, there was little support citywide for such a plan, but next to no legitimate political means through which it could have been prevented. The 2004 Republican National Convention (RNC) drew a week of concentrated protest activities in multiple sites and involving the participation of many different peoples, beginning with a march of 500,000 the day before the convention convened.

This collaborative video essay uses footage and interviews shot during the 2004 Republican National Convention. We videotaped a series of protest actions and other events occurring in public outdoor spaces, initially for independent media television reportage during each evening of the week of August 29 through September 2.

The formal decisions made in the shooting and editing of this piece arise out of our desire to portray dissent in manner which does not attempt to reproduce the formal structure of address of network and cable television news and the problematic relationship between event and viewer that go along with it. In general, then, we are invested in some means of conveying a multiplicity of dissenting voices, excluded from mainstream media coverage, without collapsing them into a single narrative or authoritative voiceover.

We have also not sought to portray specific moments and locations in an indexical nature, but rather made connections across times and between points in a city. In doing so we intentionally foreground questions around contemporary mass protest in increasingly privatized and militarized urban public spaces. In a city as dense and tall as New York the relationship between architecture and the human body, addressed in terms not only of scale, but through surface or façade and social function, seems increasingly crucial grounds for contestation today.

Initial exhibition: Dumbo Short Film and Video Festival, Brooklyn, NY, 2004.

Happy Anniversary, San Francisco, March 20-21, 2003

Single-channel video, 4:30, 2004.

This piece assembles clips from exactly a year prior to the event at which it was initially shown, which fell on the anniversary of the start of a war still being waged. Every clip is exactly ten seconds long, and they are shown in the order they were shot, ending with the last video I shot on March 21 of a San Francisco police officer throwing a blind man to the ground (which was then sent by bicycle to a National Lawyers’ Guild office for an eventual police brutality lawsuit). Much of the video I shot over this two-day period was documentation of arrests and police activity for legal rather than media/documentary purposes, and I found much of it extremely difficult to watch almost a year later. My intention in structuring the piece as a series of longer takes was to counteract the trend, even among activist videos (such as the “We Interrupt this Empire…” project using footage from the same groups) to imitate network news pacing and framing.

Initial exhibition: LMCC/Workspace Program, Woolworth Building, 2004

Intelligence Failures: Licensed for Educational Use

Intelligence Failures: Minutes 39-54 Single-channel video, 7:00, 2003.

Only the President of the United States can give a televised 60-minute speech that includes 28 minutes of silence and applause. By removing all the words, I sought to highlight this attribute of power in a way that might present all these gaps as the people’s chance to respond to an unresponsive, anti-democratic elected official. In an age where talk radio routinely runs programs through software to remove gaps in order to increase advertising revenue I re-envisioned this speech as a series of stutters and false starts met with overly enthusiastic applause. Namely, democracy as practiced in the United States.

Initial exhibition: New York Underground Film Festival, “American Visions and Revisions” Curated by Susanna Cole and Erin Donnelly at the Kunsthalle Exnergasse/WUK, Vienna, 2004.

Gap on the Inside: What Young People Should Know about the Digital Divide

Single-channel video, 32 minutes, 2000-2002.

Anthropomorphizing the figure of analog technology in the age of the digital, Max Novick and I created a character that carried out claims around mobile communication to a different end: slow, nomadic, homeless, and alone. I wanted to film a character in live situations interacting with a technological apparatus embarrassingly out-of-step with the times. The lingering technological detritus of the past shows us what is missing from technological accounts of the present.

Initial exhibition: ISEA 2004, Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, 2004.

Video Shows 1:30 excerpt:

POPULUS TREMULA a film by BENJ GERDES and JENNIFER HAYASHIDA selected for ROTTERDAM FILM FESTIVAL

POPULUS TREMULA

POPULUS TREMULA

Screening times

Saturday, 29 January, 20:00
Monday, 31 January, 22:15

Populus Tremula is a 16mm film (9 minutes) originating from artistic research into Swedish “Match King” Ivar Kreuger (1880 – 1932), whom The Economist in 2007 called “the world’s greatest financial swindler” and who was the founder of Svenska Tändsticksaktiebolaget (the Swedish Matchstick Corporation), today called Swedish Match. Between 1917 and 1932, Kreuger capitalized on shifts in global financial markets to control over 200 companies and establish matchstick monopolies in at least 34 countries; he borrowed money at low rates on U.S. markets and in turn loaned these funds to countries that granted him market monopolies, thereby initiating, according to some scholars, practices currently enacted by the IMF and WTO. Populus Tremula consists of contemporary footage shot in two extant Swedish Match factories in Vetlanda and Tidaholm, Sweden. Both factory locations have been active since the 19th century, and while the manufacturing process is now almost fully automated, beyond the removal of human labor, it has changed little since the early 20th century.

While the film follows the linear progression of match manufacture from timber to shrink-wrapped package ready for export, a series of superimposed textual interventions, via centered laser-subtitled text, point to the ability of both capital and the nation-state to legislate and assert the monopoly capitalist’s desire, as in the case of Kreuger, to not only exploit natural resources but to appear to surpass the power of nature through myth. The conjoining of text and image is here intended to posit conflicting historical and ideological conjectures in an effort to indicate ideological fissures which in turn may spark, or tremble, present-day possibilities for contestation.

Strike Anywhere

“Strike Anywhere” / 32-minute HD Video, 2009

“Strike Anywhere” is a video essay that takes as its point of departure Swedish “Match King” Ivar Kreuger, whose privatization of financial crisis management strategies bears a direct relation to late-twentieth century policies implemented by the IMF and WTO. Between 1917 and 1932, Kreuger capitalized on shifts in global financial markets to control over 200 companies and establish matchstick monopolies in at least 34 countries.  At the height of his success, Ivar Kreuger was worth approximately 30 million Swedish kronor (the equivalent of 100 billion USD today) and had matchstick monopolies in at least 34 countries.  The project is both a prehistory of neoliberal economics and an allegory about social relations and desire in the wake of global capitalist expansion and excess.