The government refuses to release photographs of interrogations. So I make my own.
I depict myself as simultaneously victim, perpetrator, and complicit witness.
I create semi-sculptural pieces with the prints, which are hand-made and usually divided into segments, by screwing, gluing, or pinning them to dog-cages, bed-frames, wire mesh, mirrors, ceramic tiles, or fabric. Mirrors are present in each; they reflect me, the camera, the print – or you.
The work deliberately confuses images with objects, abjection with agency, pleasure with prurience, value with violation, and domesticity with the security state.
Nadine Gordimer wrote, in Burger's Daughter: “Assumption of responsibility shouldered staggeringly to the point of arrogance” – catching the mixture of folly and unreasonableness needed to confront structures of power. I stay arrogantly at home and speak foolishly with my body.
These pieces may stand alone or be shown as a group in any combination. The complete series plays out a rough narrative. To see them as a installation please visit www.benaltman.net
I am intrigued by photographs’ seductive power, spurious veracity, and tendency to displace memory and experience - and frustrated by the dead surface of the photographic print, its pretence to be a window on the world, the shattering of that illusion by the smallest flaw, and by prints framed behind glass.
I love rigging, home-made contraptions, convoluted wit, self-imposed difficulties, and over-thinking. I like my work to be unreasonable, absurd, and complicated, particularly when it is political.
My prints are made by hand-coating sensitizers on watercolor paper and using contact negatives, created with my own programming from scans of the original film. The prints are nailed, glued, or screwed to, or suspended from, a wide variety of objects or structures, including mirrors, bed-frames, ceramic tiles, and plastic tubing. For a forthcoming show I am making a clock-like device to move the pieces up and down the gallery wall. I like to use the pieces as installations, with viewer participation.
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