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Essay by Kathryn Hixson

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Creative Research Lab

INTERCHANGE - summer 2007

Jani Benjamins

Jani Benjamins
Index-10-07, 2007
black & white Xerox
approx. 20"h x 30"w

Jani Benjamins
by Kathryn Hixson

Jani Benjamins makes marks, then follows his mark-making intuitively to make more marks. In a series descriptively titled Indexes, he pressed into layers of paper with his finger. Graphite dust at the bottom of the pile was ground into the first layer, thereby producing a mediated "mark" by the artist. The resulting marks are haphazard looking, idiosyncratic, and seemingly expressive. Benjamins then enlarged these gestures with a Xerox machine in an attempt to further remove any notion of direct expression. The resulting images then become literal "re"-presentations of his original simple presentation of his own mark.

In another series, Benjamins intuitively generates shapes and forms in small drawings. He then edits these, deleting and adding elements and in some cases generating sculptures that are reactions to the 2-dimensional work. Citing the organic abstraction of Terry Winters along with the casual conceptual sculpture and painting of Richard Tuttle as influential, Benjamins suggests that his work is about character disparity. Within the interlocking processes of intuition and cognition, Benjamins tries to "work at a distance from what I am thinking." As with the Index series, what appears as direct expression is the result of layers of mediation. Also translating this process into oil painting, Benjamins is making a group of gestural works that are reactions to the formula of his own processes of abstraction.

He has also taken the readymade pages of National Geographic as a site for exploring character disparity on a social level. Taking pages from the magazine, which consistently presents far away places as exotic yet imminently exploitable and consumable, he obscures the text and leaves the pictures. The results are abstract; yet, in Benjamins' erasures, they tell another story of exploitation via the persistent images. He hopes that these interventions into readymade texts will help to reveal how information is first offered, but then edited, with some details removed, further manipulated, and finally re-distributed. Benjamins' work approaches, yet always resists representation.