The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers

The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers is a series of five films. They are all part of The Artangel Collection. Following their presentation at the old BBC television studios, the works were shown at the Whitworth, The University of Manchester in spring 2016.

  • Artist: Ben Rivers
  • Title: A Distant Episode
  • Date: 2015
  • Medium: Film, 16mm, black and white, sound
  • Dimensions: Variable 
  • Duration: 18 minutes (approx)

  • Artist: Ben Rivers
  • Title: Las Mimosas
  • Date: 2015
  • Medium: Film, 16mm, shown as video, high definition, projection, black and white and sound (stereo)
  • Dimensions: Variable
  • Duration: 29 minutes 19 seconds

  • Artist: Ben Rivers
  • Title: Bandit's Camp
  • Date: 2015
  • Medium: Film, 16mm, shown as video, high definition, projection, colour and sound (stereo) 
  • Dimensions: Variable
  • Duration: 19 minutes 32 seconds

  • Artist: Ben Rivers
  • Title: Mrabet
  • Date: 2015
  • Medium: Film, 16mm, black and white, sound with subtitles
  • Dimensions: Variable
  • Duration: 9 minutes (approx)

  • Artist: Ben Rivers
  • Title: Taxi
  • Date: 2015
  • Medium: Film, 16mm, colour, sound
  • Dimensions: Variable
  • Duration: 3 minutes 14 sec
A complex web of moving image, sound and architectural space, a poetic meditation on the creative process and the blurring of fiction and reality. — Ben Luke, Evening Standard, 3 August 2015

The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers is a suite of five films hinged around the dramatisation of Paul Bowles' 'A Distant Episode', a novel, written in 1947, about the abduction of a European man by Morrocan bandits. Filmed by Ben Rivers over 18 months, the footage takes the viewer from the rugged backdrop of the Atlas Mountains to the desert sands of the Moroccan Sahara, a place littered with the abandoned sets of past location shoots.  Rivers reimagines Paul Bowles' protaganist - a Professor of languages who gets captured and has his tongue cut out by bandits - as Spanish filmmaker Oliver Laxe, who plays himself, having abandoned the actual film set of his production Las Mimosas, a film documented 'behind-the-scenes' by Rivers. Elsewhere in Morocco, this time by the ocean, Rivers tracks and incorporates another independent film being made concurrently by artist Shezad Dawood, documented by Rivers on hand-processed 16mm. During a stopover in Tangier, Rivers has a chance encounter with Mohammed Mrabet - storyteller, artist and muse to Jane and Paul Bowles in the 1940’s - now 79 and still living and working in the city. In a cave outside Tangier, Mrabet tells several stories to camera. Migrating between documentary, fantasy and fable, these films examine the nature of storytelling and film making.


Documentary: The making of The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (2015). You can also watch this video on Vimeo.

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at the Whitworth, The University of Manchester

Manchester, 25 February - 22 May 2016

For the presentation at Whitworth, Rivers has used materials sourced from old film sets to create viewing spaces, and inserted works into collection displays, encouraging a new dialogue with the gallery’s collections.  — Aesthetica, 29 February 2016

The sculptural viewing spaces of The Two Eyes Were Not Brothers installation that were created for the BBC television centre presentation were reconfigured and shown at the Whitworth in Manchester. These viewing spaces were constructed from materials sourced from old film sets and spanned the Whitworth's three main temporary exhibition spaces. Further elements of the installation were interspersed within the collection displays: the tin can suit was displayed in the textiles gallery, and the film 'Taxi' shown in the portrait gallery. This created an exchange between the temporary exhibition spaces and the existing collections at the gallery. 


Image: The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers installation at the Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photograph: Michael Pollard