On Overgrown Paths, Ben Rivers

Touring exhibition 2008- 2010.

The Permanent Gallery, Brighton / The A Foundation, Liverpool / Impressions Gallery, Bradford / Kate MacGarry Gallery, London

Measure approached Ben Rivers with an idea to exhibit his beautiful films outside in purpose built huts. This idea was inspired by the film ‘This is My Land’ with Jake Williams living in a series of wooden houses that seemed to embody his way of living. The first venue was to have been Camley Street Nature Park in Kings Cross where the three huts would have been installed around the reserve, a quite spot in amongst the busy ¬†building site that was Kings Cross in 2008. Unfortunanty this first venue was not to be, but we had begun organising a tour so we decided to go ahead with it and it ended up being a very successful project for Measure and Ben.

Below is the text from the booklet that accompanied the project.

A series of cinematic portraits by Ben Rivers showing the lives of three individuals who have made the isolated pockets of Northern Europe their home. Living self-sufficiently off the land, the subjects of the films are independently evolving a way of life that quietly, but resolutely, refuses to submit to the demands of conventional living.

The title of the exhibition refers to the name of a book by Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun. Hamsun held a deep mistrust for civilisation and believed a life’s fulfillment was only to be found through the soil. On Overgrown Paths came about as a final defense following Hamsun’s condemnation by fellow Norwegians for sympathising with the Romantic ‘Volk’ elements of the Third Reich. Hamsun embodies the principles that the characters within these films adhere to, whilst his life-story demonstrates the political misappropriation that the return to nature has suffered.

Mimicking the cluttered liberty these recluses seek, Ben’s camera moves with a sensitive and inquisitive abandon. Using experimental processing techniques and utilising the fragmenting effect of the 30sec longest continuous shot of a wind-up Bolex, the films emphasise the incomplete nature of the cinematic portrait, while preserving a sense of the private. What emerges is a richly textured and intimate ode to the patterns of the lives portrayed.

This Is My Land, observes the daily routine of self-sufficient Jake Williams. Sördal focuses upon an abandoned film set found while searching for a Norwegian hermit. Origin of the Species surveys the geography surrounding a 75-year-old amateur inventor and Darwin enthusiast.