Hobson’s Choice: Ben Rivers at Kate MacGarry

27 April 2012 By
Hobson's Choice: Ben Rivers at Kate MacGarry

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

21 April – 26 May 2012

27 Old Nichol Street, London E2 7HR

Open Wednesday – Saturday, 12.00-18.00 or by appointment


Rivers has a long-term, almost anthropological interest in those who live in isolated locations, outside of civilisation and within hermetic or utopian worlds.  His new body of work, Phantoms of a Libertine now showing at Kate MacGarry – a 16mm film and a series of black and white photographs- marks a slight shift, a re-visiting of earlier lines of enquiry into the power of once occupied places and the unfolding process of abandonment which renders the remains of a once animated histories into remnants of experience, mysterious and incomplete.  It is a pared down show, one enters the dimmed gallery to the whir and click of a rickety projector casting footage, flickering and granular, on to a seductively ‘home-movie’ scaled screen. It shows photographs of travel pinned in yellowing albums with handwritten place names and notes and unfamiliar people mostly from the knees down. Rivers documents the life of an anonymous subject, a friend, through the articles left in his flat a year after his death, an obscured yet oddly plain and fond presentation of a well-recorded life and what remains: a flat replete with artefacts, books and stone figurines now dominated by dust. Rivers gaze is directed at the details of a life, the small physical tokens that are left behind- a really beautiful show.

Image: Ben Rivers, Phantoms of a Libertine, 2012, image courtesy the artist and Kate MacGarry

Let us know what you think at membership@contemporaryartsociety.org