Sleep Rock is the first solo exhibition in the UK by New York-based artist Sadie Benning. The exhibition’s title evokes a dream state where perception is blurred by the merging of memory, vision and association.
Installed sequentially in the galleries, this new body of work reads with a filmic register – frame by frame – as pictures are apprehended from a distance, or seen in detail close-up. An important operation of scale is brought into play, both in the varying sizes of the panels and in Benning’s use of images. Fragments are enlarged or brought closer, photographs dissolve into painterly abstraction and images remain mutable, reflecting an indexical relationship to the multiplicity of meanings projected onto them.
Sleep Rock includes a series made with a completely new approach to materials: transparencies, analogue photos and digital prints are embedded within layers of resin, enamel and spray paint on wall-based panels. In other works, Benning cuts large panels into pieces, layering the components with aqua-resin before re-assembling them to create works that hover between painting and sculpture. Benning’s approach to images, materials and installation reveals a hybrid approach that actively resists categorisation and fixity. This in-between quality reflects decades of enquiry into the operation and influence of cultural material, beginning with Benning’s earliest video works made in the late 1980s and subsequent explorations in drawing, painting and music production. The process of amassing, recontextualising, editing, sequencing, and destabilising both found and original content continues to propel Benning’s current practice.
Sadie Benning (b. 1973 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA) lives and works in New York, USA. Benning has had solo exhibitions at Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL, USA (2016); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2017); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2009), The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2008), Dia Foundation for the Arts, New York, USA (2007); and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA (2005). Benning’s work has been included in group shows including Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon at New Museum, New York, USA (2017); Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age, Museum Brandhorst, Munich, Germany; and MuMOK, Vienna, Austria (both 2016); Macho Man, Tell It to My Heart: Collected by Julie Ault, Kunstmuseum Basel, and Artists Space New York, USA (2013). Benning has participated in The Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, PA, USA (2013); Annual Report: 7th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2008); the Whitney Biennial, New York, USA (2000 and 1993) White Columns Annual, New York, USA (2007); and the Venice Biennale, Italy (1993). Public collections include: ICA Boston, USA; BFI, London, UK; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, USA; MCA, Chicago, USA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. USA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; MOMA, New York, USA; and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA.