Avatars, The Feminist Return, Magical Realism

Check here for the calendar of events during the month of April, organized on the occasion of Gretchen Bender: So Much Deathless. Programs are free and open to the public with RSVP. Seating is limited.


Virtual Histories: Jacolby Satterwhite presents
Reifying Desire 5 (2012) and Reifying Desire 6 (2014), followed by the Work of Director Chris Cunningham.
Friday, April 5

Join us on us Friday, April 5 at 7pm for a screening of Jacolby Satterwhite’s surrealist videos, Reifying Desire 5 (8:51 min, 2012) and Reifying Desire 6 (24:14 min, 2014), followed by a compilation of music videos directed by legendary British filmmaker Chris Cunningham. Jacolby Satterwhite is celebrated for a conceptual practice addressing crucial themes of labor, consumption, sex, and fantasy through immersive installation, virtual reality, and digital media. He uses a range of software to produce intricately detailed animations and live action film of real and imagined worlds populated by avatars of artists and friends.

Using Bender’s notion of deathlessness as a framework, Virtual Histories is a special series of film and video screenings that presents short video works and feature films by artists who explore multi-dimensional memory, alternative scenarios, and imaginary time. As a follow-up to their short, artists in this series have been invited to screen a personally influential film that reflects Bender’s contributions to new media theory and production.



Meet the Makers: Solveig Nelson presents
The Feminist Return
Thursday, April 11

A 2017 Creative Capital Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant recipient for her forthcoming paper Gretchen Bender’s “Total Recall”, 1987, and the Feminist Return to Television Art, art historian and curator Solveig Nelson will present in conversation with Associate Curator Kenta Murakami on the art history of Bender’s work, including the various iterations of Total Recall shown during Bender’s lifetime. In the 1980s, artists’ relationships to history were changing through both appropriation and new technologies. Bender amplified these changes, continually situating her work within specific historical moments of the almost-past in series such as The Pleasure is Back, People in Pain, and TV Text and Image. The conversation will explore the implications of staging a posthumous retrospective of an artist such as Bender who was obsessed with her own work’s obsolescence. Ultimately asking how Bender’s prescient work operates in the present, the audience will be encouraged to participate in this open-ended discussion.

Solveig Nelson is an art critic and art historian who recently completed her dissertation, The Whole World is (Still) Watching: the Televisual, Early Video, Nonviolent Direct Action, 1930s–1970s, at the University of Chicago. She is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in Time-Based Media at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she is co-curating the Chicago presentation of the retrospective, Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well. Nelson is recipient of a Creative Capital Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for the in-progress essay, “Gretchen Bender’s Total Recall, 1987 and the Feminist Return of Television Art,” as well as fellowships from the Luce/ACLS and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.



Meet the Makers: Meriem Bennani presents
Test Audience
Thursday, April 23

Commissioned to create a new video installation for this year’s 2019 Whitney Biennale, video artist Meriem Bennani will present work in progress footage for her project MISSION TEENS, which chronicles the daily routine of a group of Moroccan teenagers enrolled in French school.

The format of Bennani’s artist talk, referenced in the title of her program, is inspired by network TV’s practice of hiring a test audience as a way of rating new content. As an experiment, Bennani will at times, invite her audience to participate in the process of developing MISSION TEENS (2019).  

Donkey: Would you say there is a difference between the kids like, who go to French school, and the kids from Moroccan school?

Teenager 1: Not really, but also I don’t really know many people who go to Moroccan school so closely except for some cousins. The one thing I think I know is that they are violent, sometimes they show up in front of the Lycée to pick fights with kids from our school.

Donkey: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do on the weekend?

Teenager 1: I don’t think I’m that special, I’m a pretty normal kid. I love video games, I started learning how to code last year. So I do that when my homework is done. And then I love to fight my brother.

Donkey: Is he older than you?

Teenager 1: No, he’s my little brother, I’m stronger than him, that’s why it’s fun to wrestle him. We fight for hours.


Donkey: I was wondering, do you know why we have so many French schools in Morocco?

Teenager 2: Mhhh. Because we speak French?

Donkey: Well, do you know why we speak French?

Teenager 2: We speak French because we were colonized by France!

Donkey: Yes. What do you know about all that?

Teenager 2: We haven’t gotten to that class yet in our history program but I know that it hurt a lot of people like my grandpa…I think? I also know that it developed our country and made our minds more open and advanced…for example: had colonization not happened, I might not be wearing these jeans today.

Donkey: What would you be wearing?

Teenager 2: [Laughing] Ummm, I really don’t know!

Casting at the Lycée Descartes in Rabat, Morocco.

Meriem Bennani (b. 1988 in Rabat, Morocco) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Juxtaposing and mixing the language of reality TV, documentaries, phone footage, animation, and high production aesthetics, she explores the potential of storytelling while amplifying reality through a strategy of magical realism and humor. She has been developing a shape-shifting practice of films, installations and immersive environments, composed with a subtle agility to question our contemporary society and its fractured identities, gender issues and ubiquitous dominance of digital technologies. Bennani’s work has been shown at MoMA PS1, Art Dubai, the Shanghai Biennale, The Jewish Museum and The Kitchen in New York.

RSVP is strongly recommended, as seating is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Talks and presentations will be followed by communal discussion.

Red Bull Arts New York April Public Programming