Ben Judd’s work describes a delusion of intimacy. The groups of people in his work (tourists, trainspotters, amateur photographers, Morris dancers, preachers) are both part of a group and disconnected from a larger group. Similarly, Judd is both a part of and detached from the groups that he films.
By engaging in an endless activity that has no discernible beginning or end, the groups of people (and in turn, Judd) are involved in a contradictory practice that is both a hobby and an obsession, and is both meaningful and meaningless.
Judd’s new video work (‘In This Wonderful Country Part 1’, ‘In This Wonderful Country Part 2’ and ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’) uses the words of preachers from Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park and central London, whom Judd filmed for several months. After isolating key phrases, he supplied sections of the texts to actors and musicians, who then performed on stage or in the street. Judd filmed these perfomances, again confusing his roles as voyeur and participant.
‘In This Wonderful Country’ depicts acoustic singer-songwriters, who have written songs based on the words of the preachers at Speakers’ Corner. Each singer is paired with a twin image of himself, singing the same song but out of sync, so they seem to be anticipating and contradicting one another, yet also harmonising. As in earlier videos which used voice-overs, this piece and ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’ present an ambiguity over who is pre-empting who; an oscillation between a connection and a disconnection, or a closeness and a distance.
Ben Judd’s work is concerned with dualities: distance and closeness, natural and artificial. On a formal level, his 3D images represent a dual image combined into one. His new video work contains a combination of people repeating certain phrases, and people that Judd has asked to say or sing the same phrases. Both can seem equally as meaningful or meaningless. He has also produced a neon piece that contains two (or four) opposites.
Like amateur photography, trainspotting and Morris dancing, 3D photographs and equipment are collected obsessively. By producing 3D photographs, Judd is involved in an activity that is (certainly now) outsider-ish, outmoded and archaic, and requires him to learn a particular style and method. The activity mirrors that undertaken in his earlier photographs of amateur glamour models.
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