Interconnected ideas emerge when viewing the photographic and video work of Ben Judd; personal and public space, the observed and the observer, distance and closeness, the artificial and the natural.
Judd’s videos seem to operate within artificial spaces, some because of the transitory nature of the space (a station, an airport, and a street), and some because the spaces appear to be copies of an original (animals’ terrain within a zoo, and a picture book). All the work is concerned with the problem of being simultaneously familiar and removed from something or someone.
In ‘There Is So Little Time Left’, the zoo provides a setting that describes a nineteenth century idea of the relationship between the cultivated observer and the wild primitive. The zoo is used as an imitation of nature, a construction of reality – nothing more than a film or photographic set.
Through the use of close-ups, the difference between real and artificial nature becomes unclear. The voice-over is taken from a talking book of the Mills and Boon genre; an escapist and often mediocre mass product of literature. Through Judd’s use of a talking book, the author and speaker become obsolete. Only the descriptive passages of the tape are used, like stage directions. Judd combines traditional observations with an artificial discourse that is impersonal and detached.
In the video ‘I Love’ Judd observes the observers and produces a personal history with the men, evoking the loss of a lover that has left the scene.
Gestures and movements are anticipated a few seconds before they arrive. The romantic motifs of missing and losing, the desire to be fulfilled, the inherent human need to not be alone, here receive a bizarre twist.
Judd’s work asks: if our intimacy is collective, if our repertoire of feelings and emotions are collective, is there a difference between the media’s representation of the personal, and the genuinely personal? Is there a difference between the artificial and the natural? It sometimes seems that everything is interchangeable. The means we have to overcome the distance appears to be causing the distance in the first place. But that is a small price to pay if it is possible to find a new kind of beauty and authenticity.
Ben Judd will be having a solo show at The Happy Lion, Los Angeles in September. Other forthcoming exhibitions include a group show at ICP Triennial Premieres, The International Center of Photography in New York.
For further information or images please contact Martin Rasmussen: +44 (0)20 7729 9888 or: firstname.lastname@example.org