Benning reconstructed Henry David Thoreau’s and Ted Kaczynski’s iconic cabins, and uses these structures to reflect on utopian and dystopian versions of social isolation. Mounted on the walls of each cabin are copies of paintings by so-called outsider artists, also made by Benning. On the surface Benning’s two cabins are night and day, invoking contradictory sets of reclusive intentions and divergent paths leading back out. Deeper inquiry reveals the Thoreau / Kaczynski equation to be inspired. Benning’s engagement makes discernable a multitude of contacts between their motivations, beliefs, and experiences of seclusion. Benning’s armature artfully unfolds a complex articulation of practices of dissent, nonprescriptive ways of living, and the politics of solitude.
The book includes photography by Benning, essays by Julie Ault, Benning, and Dick Hebdige, and extracts from Thoreau’s and Kaczynski’s writings.
- James Benning - Two Cabins
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