For more than 40 years exploring the film medium, Benning has engaged with history, memory, and documentary traditions, often encompassing a rigorous treatment of the American landscape. James Benning: Quilts, Cigarettes & Dirt (Portraits of America) is curated by Abaseh Mirvali, Executive Director and Chief Curator.
James Benning (b.1942, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA) lives and works in Val Verde, California, USA. Benning is a major figure of American cinema. In the late 1960s, he directed his first short films in the experimental-cinema tradition, retaining its formal rigor and taste for conceptual constraints while pioneering the notion of “figurative narrative.” His films rest on an experience of time and perception and its relationship to space. They also approach the notion of place from autobiographical, cultural, political, and historical viewpoints. In 2014, his film, 13 Lakes, was added to the National Film Registry. Benning has been teaching at the California Institute of the Arts since 1987.