START POINT PRIZE – Prize for emerging artists

Benjamin Brix

The video installation by Benjamin Brix consists of several boxes, each intended for a single viewer who, in complete isolation from the surrounding environment, can watch several short videos in succession, shot in Indian and Chinese cities. The absolute concentration of the viewer is not disturbed by the length of the videos, as they rarely exceed two minutes. Therefore the viewer perceives these film sequences in a similar way to photographs or paintings, supported by the fact that the format is small, which emphasises the aesthetic qualities, and the camera remains static. The artist thus sacrifices one of the most important tools of the film maker – the motion of the camera – in favour of a simple record of reality which captures our attention through its very existence. Moreover, the people in the films do not seem to notice the camera almost at all and do not adapt their behaviour to the fact that they are being filmed. Although these “beautiful images” are mostly focused on completely mundane events (a procession in an Indian town or the busy activity on a Chinese construction site), they are exceptionally attractive visually – for what they present, for their exotic environment and most of all for their purely artistic and filmic qualities, and thus we find ourselves uncertain whether the depicted reality is staged and we are watching a feature film instead of a documentary. (mf)