Ben Rivers

The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers

Former BBC Drama Block, Television Centre, London
26 June 2015 - 31 August 2015

Layering one uncanny landscape, that of Morocco's Atlas Mountains and much-filmed desert, with another, the iconic London backdrop to BBC drama since 1960; this project collapsed fiction and documentary into a powerful cinematic installation which pushed at the boundaries of storytelling.

Television Centre at White City in London was the headquarters of BBC Television between 1960 and 2013. Officially opened in 1960, it is one of the most readily recognisable facilities of its type, having appeared as the backdrop of many BBC programmes. The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers was conceived for the former BBC Drama Block, due for demolition in 2016 as part of the ongoing re-development of Television Centre at White City. 

Made up of footage shot by Rivers over the preceding eighteen months in different parts of Morocco, a sequence of contrasting film loops are found in interconnecting spaces on three floors of the Drama Block. Here sets were once built and painted before being used in productions made in the adjacent BBC studios.

Ben Rivers also released a feature film THE SKY TREMBLES AND THE EARTH IS AFRAID AND THE TWO EYES ARE NOT BROTHERS which used some of the footage profiled in this installation.


Image: The costume fashioned from the lids of tin cans that Oliver Laxe wore when Ben Rivers was filming in Morocco on display at Television Centre, June 2015. Photograph: Marcus Leith

Video: interview with Ben Rivers and Michael Morris

8 minutes 17 seconds
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Video: interview with Ben Rivers and Michael Morris

I want there to be some kind of involvement with the audience, that they're able to use their imagination.

Artist Ben Rivers discusses his project The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (2015), the process of making the work and the installation at Television Centre with Artangel Co-Director Michael Morris amongst the atmospheric setting of the Drama Block, the structures built from old film and TV sets, and the raw footage shot by Rivers in Morocco.

This video is also available to view on Vimeo and YouTube.


Produced by Siren Productions.

Oliver Laxe

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Oliver Laxe and Las Mimosas

Oliver Laxe's work and Ben Rivers's begin to collide when Laxe abandons his film set to take the part in Rivers's reworking of writer Paul Bowles's short story in which a Professor of Languages has his tongue cut out in. A costume fashioned from the lids of tin cans is displayed as worn by Laxe performing this role in 'A Distant Episode'.

The installation includes part of a film being made by Oliver Laxe, 'Las Mimosas', also shot in Morocco. As well as documenting behind the scenes of this production, Ben Rivers stepped in as a second camera unit for Laxe and shot some footage from the back of a taxi. The furtive actor in the front seat left the set shortly afterwards, never to be seen again.


Image:  Oliver Laxe as shot by Ben Rivers, projection at Television Centre, June 2015. Photograph: Marcus Leith

Mohammed Mrabet

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Mohammed Mrabet

During a stopover in Tangier, Rivers has a chance encounter with Mohammed Mrabet – storyteller, artist and muse to Jane and Paul Bowles in the 1940s – now 79 and still living and working in the city. In a cave outside Tangier, Mrabet tells several stories to camera.


Image:  Mohammed Mrabet shot by Ben Rivers, part of the installation at Television Centre at White City, 2015. Photograph: Marcus Leith

The Paint Frame

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The Paint Frame

In The Paint Frame, an area where sets were created for BBC dramas, a fragment of Carles Santos' soundtrack to Pere Portabella's 'Vampir Cuadecuc' (1970) can be heard.

A large viewing room in The Setting Space constructed from salvaged film sets houses a projection documenting the making of another filmmaker Shezad Dawood's work 'Towards the Possible Film', again shot in Morocco, this time by the ocean. A study in parallel universes and the sparks that fly when worlds collide, Rivers' account of Dawood's shoot is recollected in monochrome as a remote and distant episode, underscored by the Carles Santos soundtrack first heard in The Paint Frame.


Image: The Paint Frame at Television Centre, June 2015. Photograph: Marcus Leith

A Distant Episode (short film)

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A Distant Episode

As well as forming part of the installation at Television Centre, A Distant Episode has been since released as a short film.

Its world premiere was at Toronto International Film Festival, 12 September 2015 and it has also screened at the New York Film Festival. A meditation on the illusion of filmmaking, it is shot behind-the-scenes on a film being made on the otherworldly beaches of Sidi Ifni, Morocco. The film depicts strange activities, with no commentary or dialogue; it appears as a fragment of film, dug-up in a distant future; a hazy, black and white, hallucinogenic world.


Credits

Written and directed by Ben Rivers
Commissioned by Artangel
Produced by Jacqui Davies
First AD Lina Laraki
Sound by Carles Santos

A Distant Episode uses footage generated on the production of Towards the Possible Film by Shezad Dawood, a work commissioned by Film and Video Umbella and Delfina Foundation. Film and Video Umbrella is supported by Arts Council England. With thanks to the Shezad Dawood and the crew of Towards the Possible Film.


Image: Rushes from A Distant Episode by Ben Rivers, projected as part of The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers at Television Centre, June 2015. Photograph: Marcus Leith

Video: Ben Rivers and Shezad Dawood

In conversation with Sight & Sound's Isabel Stevens at BFI Southbank
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Video: Ben Rivers and Shezad Dawood

Sight & Sound's Isabel Stevens joined filmmaker Ben Rivers and artist Shezad Dawood to reflect on the making of their film, their influences, and how they collaborated.

Recorded 18:30-20:00, Wednesday 1 July 2015 at NFT3, BFI Southbank

This video is also available to view on YouTube.


Presented by Artangel in association with Sight & Sound as part of the BFI's Essential Experiments programme.

Press

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The connections between authorship, creativity, landscape and the medium of filmmaking itself are tapped and allowed to run amok within the dusty walls of the Drama Block. – Adam Scovell, The Times, 17 August 2015

Press

The connections between authorship, creativity, landscape and the medium of filmmaking itself are tapped and allowed to run amok within the dusty walls of the Drama Block. – Adam Scovell, The Times, 17 August 2015
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
By including rushes and using the abandoned BBC drama centre to meditate on themes of construction, reconstruction and deconstruction, Rivers has created an artwork that simultaneously begs to be seen as a continuous work and a walk-through installation. It is a work for both mind and body. – Dan Kidner, Frieze, September 2015
Ben Rivers is putting the former drama block of Television Centre department to good use, interweaving layers of fiction and documentary in his Artangel-commissioned film installation, so that the fuzzy-edged threads of movies and reality become confused.’– Skye Sherwin, The Guardian Guide, 27 June 2015 

About Ben Rivers

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Ben Rivers

Ben Rivers was selected as part of the 2013 Open call for proposals from Artangel and BBC Radio 4.

Ben Rivers is an award winning artist and filmmaker represented by Kate MacGarry Gallery in London. Rivers won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize, 68th Venice Film Festival for his first feature film Two Years At Sea; the inaugural Robert Gardner Film Award, 2013; Baloise Art Prize, Art Basel 42, for Sack Barrow; Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists, 2010.

Recent solo exhibitions include: Fable, Temporary Gallery Cologne, 2014; Things, Kate MacGarry Gallery, London, 2014; Ah, Liberty! Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, 2013; Slow Action, Hepworth Wakefield, 2012; Sack Barrow, Hamburg Kunsthalle, 2012 and Hayward Gallery, London, 2011; Slow Action, Matt's Gallery, London and Gallery TPW, Toronto, 2011.

His films have screened worldwide at numerous festivals including Rotterdam Film Festival, where he twice won a Tiger Award for Short Film. His second feature film, co-directed with Ben Russell, A Spell To Ward Off The Darkness, premiered at Locarno International Film Festival, and won top prizes at CPH:DOX and Torino Film Festival. Between 1995 and 2005 he co-programmed Brighton Cinematheque. He is currently a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University.

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Image: Ben Rivers and Mohammed Mrabet, Morocco (2015). Photograph: Yuki Yamamoto

In the Artangel Collection

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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
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Production Credits

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Production Credits

Presented at Television Centre White City with the kind cooperation of Stanhope plc.


Production Manager, Jacqui Leigh
Installation Manager, Patrick Seaman
Installation Crew, Ali Amer, Jim Bridge, Luke Champion, Peter Cooper, Zane Costelloe, Anthony D'Amico, John Gair, David Jones, Christian Marsden, David Sawyer and Rowland Smith.

AV Equipment, Kino Klub, ADi and RNSS.

With very special thanks for the support of Scenery Salvage.

Front of House Team: Keshav Anand, Jen Boyd, Ruby Brown, Martha Crawford, Isabel Ford, Anabel Hazeldine, Laura Hindmarsh, Nick Middleton, John Petrie, Tashi Petter, Marion Ravel, Joseph Taylor McRae (Manager), Tilly Symonds, Rosie Taylor, Sarah Thacker, Helen Turner, Heather Welsh, Lisa Williams, Samantha Wolf.


A Distant Episode from A Distant Episode: The Selected Stories by Paul Bowles. Copyright © 1988 by Paul Bowles, used with permission of The Wylie Agency LLC.


Footage generated on the production of Las Mimosas, a film by Oliver Laxe, produced by Zeitun Films, Rouge International and LaProd and footage generated on the production of Towards the Possible Film by Shezad Dawood, a work commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Delfina Foundation all used with permission. Film and Video Umbrella is supported by Arts Council England.


With special thanks to Diversity Art Forum.


Image: Installing The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers at Television Centre, June 2015. Photograph: Marcus Leith

Credits

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Who made this possible?

Credits

The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers is commissioned by Artangel, the Whitworth, The University of Manchester and the BFI’s Film Fund, with the support of Arts Council England. It was selected through Open by Artangel and BBC Radio 4. 
It is part of the Artangel Collection, a national initiative to commission and present new film and video work, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. 

Artangel is generously supported by the private patronage of The Artangel International CircleSpecial Angels and The Company of Angels.


 

 

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