Two Significant Films by Ben Rivers Acquired For Royal Pavilion & Museum, Brighton & Hove, and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

The Contemporary Art Society has acquired two significant films by Ben Rivers for Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. The partnership was formed to apply for the Collections Fund scheme and the works will be co-owned by the two museums.

Moving between documentary and fiction, Rivers’ films draw the audience into private worlds where people and nature exist symbiotically. Rivers was selected for his hand-made aesthetic and reinterpretation of the ethnographic, following a yearlong research process led by the Contemporary Art Society’s Collections Fund Patrons and the museums to identify a moving image work that would bring the most benefit to both collections.

The two films, Ah, Liberty! (2008) and Origin of The Species (2008) are both made using 16mm film and capture contemplative portraits of individuals living at the margins of society. The physicality of 16mm film, in distinction to digital video, reflects the tactile, tangible worlds of the characters he portrays and Rivers uses his awareness of the history of the medium and its multiple genres to break away from traditional audio and visual narratives.

Laura Pye, Head of Bristol Culture said:

I am very pleased that Bristol has been able to form a partnership with Brighton to acquire this important pair of films by Ben Rivers, who has connections with both cities. This is a key moment in our drive to develop Bristol’s engagement with artists who work with film and video: we have a growing collection of film and video from around the world, from Amar Kanwar to Akram Zaatari and Ben’s films will represent an important milestone in our holdings of British artists’ film. 

Janita Bagshawe, Director Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, said:

We are delighted to have worked with the Contemporary Art Society and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery on this important acquisition. Ben Rivers’ films will be the first artists’ moving image works to enter Brighton’s fine art collection and will resonate beautifully with our city’s experimental film-making history. The films will also bring a contemporary perspective to bear on our traditional portraits and landscape paintings, raising fundamental questions about our relationship to our natural environment.

Ah, Liberty! (2008) and Origin of The Species (2008) were presented to Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, and Bristol Museum & Art Gallery through the Contemporary Art Society Collections Fund.

Ben Rivers (b.1972, Somerset, UK) lives and works in London. Ben Rivers is currently developing a commission with Artangel and has a solo show at Camden Arts Centre this autumn. His work has been shown in exhibitions and film festivals around the world and has won numerous awards, most recently the Canon Tiger Award for Short Films (2015) and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists (2010). Recent solo exhibitions include The Hepworth Wakefield (2012); Hayward Project Space (2011); and Matt’s Gallery, London (2011). Forthcoming solo exhibitions and commissions include Artangel Open Commission, London (2015) and Camden Arts Centre, London (2015).


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