Ben Riesman’s irresistibly goofy videos, photographs and sound works underscore an impulse towards unearthing something profound in the everyday. Staging simple actions with people and objects, Riesman’s work points to a theme that he calls “the misrepresentation of the photograph as document and the joy of suspending disbelief.” Using low-tech visual tricks, he spins ordinary moments into surreal and sometimes transcendent works of art. He thinks of his work as sort of post-modern conjuring – indeed an apt explanation for his ability to cause a wad of sweaters to appear to hover in over a lawn, to imbue grapefruits with a peculiar life force, or to compose a first-person perspective view of a levitation. His portraits of people standing in outdoor settings somehow manage to be unsettling and dreamlike, even while relying on the junior high school trick of putting one’s pants and shirts on backwards. Illusory as these choreographed images may be, they create a powerful sense of the uncanny.

Wisely trusting in the persuasive, disarming power of humor and his own well-developed sense of it, Riesman’s work adds levity to the often over-intellectualized aura of the art world. Yet this attribute tends to downplay his more serious intentions. Knowingly walking the fine line between simple surfaces and complicated interiors, Riesman’s work is an act of transformation. Using his acute understanding of timing and the powers of suggestion he instills a sense of wonder and delight in the metaphorical act of turning rubbish into gold.