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.