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Scott Benzel

Bio

Scott Benzel collects artifacts whose intended appearance and meaning are augmented, and often suppressed, by misuse, mythologizing, or market capitalization, pulling equally from popular and avant-garde histories, and from both visual and musical sources. By isolating and abstracting these artifacts and stories, he enacts a further modification, encouraging additional interpretations. Slipping between the roles of visual artist, composer, poet, and curator, Benzel inhabits mainstream culture while positioning himself as its critical dissident. Benzel’s visual and aural arrangements disrupt cultural orthodoxies and hierarchies, sending objects and viewers on imaginative, often wayward trajectories. This performance evokes a palimpsest of Vietnam-era counterculture and hippie politics gone awry. Extending the bizarre logic of a 1967 Esquire article that provocatively pairs actress Sharon Tate with aphorisms from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, the artist configures two reel-to-reel tape players to spool an electronic composition around the bodies and accoutrements (e.g., a bayonet or Coke bottle) of moving performers costumed like Tate’s Esquire Maoist rebel. Meanwhile musicians improvise an accompanying score on cello, viola, violin, and percussion.

Gallery

Scott Benzel

Scott Benzel. Ceci n’est pas une pipe (Princess X and dead soldiers), 2011. Silver, aluminum, plastic, glass, steel. Dimensions variable. Collection of Mark Hagen, Los Angeles. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Jennie Warren.

Scott Benzel

Scott Benzel. Fromage de Guerre, 2011. Glass, steel, paperbacks, Dublin cheddar cheese, goat cheese, bleu cheese, marzipan. 15 x 46 x 31 in. (38.1 x 116.8 x 78.7 cm). Courtesy the artist. Photo by Jennie Warren.

Scott Benzel

Scott Benzel. Maldistribution, 2011. Installation view, Human Resources at Cottage Home, Los Angeles. Courtesy the artist.

Scott Benzel

Scott Benzel. “Fakir” image of Princess Diana, 2011, and “Slash” image of Spock, 2011. C-prints on metallic paper. 8 x 10 in. (20.3 x 25.4 cm) each. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Jennie Warren.

Scott Benzel

Scott Benzel. Maldistribution, 2011 (detail). Glass, steel, 45 rpm record, magazine. 15 x 46 x 31 in. (38.1 x 116.8 x 78.7 cm). Courtesy the artist. Photo by Jennie Warren.