City of Progress

Justin Bennett (NL 2009, 11:00 mins)

“A city could start like this drawing: first there’s an empty space and then an event:a dot on the paper.” The video traces the growth of an imaginary city as it expands from a single dot into a proliferation of lines and geometric forms, representing the physical development of a city. As Bennett points out in the accompanying voice-over commentary, organic urban growth is soon curbed by laws and regulations, reshaped by project developers or armed conflicts. The creative act of drawing, as well as that of founding a city, is put under the magnifying glass – resulting in a reflection on the inexorable expansion of our urban areas. ’City of Progress’ embodies our quest for utopia, while attesting to the difficulty of attaining it. The video was made during a residency in the Zuidas business district of Amsterdam. The text explores the problematic relationship between art and gentrification as well as referring to art works that balance creation and destruction.

BIO: Justin Bennett lives and works in Den Haag. His widely ranging work is as rooted in the audiovisual and visual arts as it is in music. Central to his thinking and his work is a process-orientated approach and an interest in the elasticity of the concept of ’space’, with a specific focus on urban development, technological progress and the relationship between architecture and sound. Recent work consists of thematic projects focusing on the role of the artist in urban development, the relationship of sound and memory and the history of psychiatry in relation to the occult use of technology. Bennett regularly gives lectures, hosts workshops, produces soundtracks for filmmakers and is a founding member of the performance group, BMB.
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