The Aesthete & the Amateur part 2: Fran Benoir

Three works from Fran Benoir’s show at Twilight Gallery are discussed by critics Eleanor Medier and Heavy Writer in this ongoing series, The Aesthete and the Amateur. The in-world magazine only presents the first of these three works, but has additional photographs. 

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Eleanor: “Heavy, you have said that you don’t like to read instructions or notecards about art, but wish for the art to speak alone. How about when words are incorporated into the art, like Fran Benoir’s book-like images?”

Heavy: “These words cover and crowd the collaged photographs. And, I can’t see what’s under them.”

Eleanor: “Do you think the words cover up something?”

Heavy: “Do they make sense to you? What does ‘DIRE SLUMBERS’ mean?”

Eleanor: “Dire means dangerous and slumber means sleep. The words are intriguing. They grab my eye as I see them first. And, I have to read them. This is  between a visual work and a poem. I do want to relate the words to the images, which is something most visual art does not integrate.”

Heavy: “Maybe they go together, but my translation is not too well.”

Eleanor: “This book-like format divides the work into two segments—a diptych. But I want to turn the pages—this is SL—it should be interactive. If you notice, many of Fran’s pieces do change, but not these. Unless this work is progressive through the pages, don’t make it like a book unless it functions like one in SL. The blue visually holds the two sides together, then the style of the collage. The task is to relate the words to those images, one side to the other.”

Heavy: “A ‘bed can be helped’? Why would we help a bed?”

Eleanor: “The bed is symbolic of the activity that can be helped—such as sleeplessness. Days are brief—so your goodbye to the bed is a short one. Deceptive means saying one thing but doing something else, not quite lying. It is hiding what you do  by acting completely different.The ‘deceptive mind’ is responsible for the bad slumber  What does a bed have to do with the radio? It says radio is dead.”

Heavy: “So radio is a public regard of nightmares pushed inside a coffin? Then she doesn’t listen to the right radio station! Maybe radio is dead because you fall to sleep and don`t hear it anymore? Also, many people have alarm radio clocks beside their beds—the working class has—to wake them up.”

Eleanor: “The radio brings you to the ‘reality of the public.’ It awakens and pushes the dreams away. putting personal situations aside. Instead, wake up and deal with reality”

Heavy: “Do you have the public in your bedroom?? Maybe she just hates to wakeup in the morning and go to work.”

Eleanor: “A reluctance to face what must be. Look how the figure by those words looks like she is lying awake.”

Heavy: “The blue girl is a drawing while the black and white old lady is a picture. That tells me the real one is the mature lady—who day-dreams of her young years when she told her partners BRIEF GOOD-BYE and now her mind is deceptive because she can`t do that anymore? She is troubled because she is not young like the big glamourous portrait above in the upper left. Same character—young and old. We all get old…”

Eleanor grins: “Not here we don’t!”

Heavy: “And most of us search their inner circle while in bed. I do.”

Eleanor: “Inner circle?”

Heavy: “Yes she is thinking about how she wasted her life while young, in one night-adventures.She was attractive and had many lovers but she didn’t pick any as a husband.”

Eleanor: “She places her dreams in the coffin. There’s a guy singing in the lower right corner.”

Heavy: “She ends up alone in bed listening to songs on the radio that bring back sad memories. She tires  to push those in a coffin, to forget them, but the darn radio keeps playing those downhearted songs! She ends up losing sleep, lonely, and unhappy.”

Eleanor: “Like a song stuck in your mind you can’t get rid of? There is a melancholy here and a send of time. But, I think we got the story on this one.”

Heavy: “Next time you crash one of my cars, you should think how you might end up like this lady alone in bed listening to the radio!”

Eleanor laughs: “I will be too busy.”

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Eleanor: “Behind you is another pair. I find the left page visually engaging—the eyes are compelling. But the page on the right has a really ugly guy in it that I don’t like looking at. These works remind me of the writing on ancient scrolls where parts of the messages are missing. Only these partial words remain to interpret.”

Heavy: “Pygmies—isn’t that a population in Africa and Australia of short people? This is tougher one to figure out than the first one.”

Eleanor: “Pygmies and gorillas are both in Africa. The pygmies are dancing and making noise, throwing color around. So the gorillas don’t appreciate the disruption of the peace. They are shocked at human behavior. Humans watch the gorillas and the gorillas watch the people.”

Heavy: “Pygmies are small and the gorilla is big—even ‘drunk with power’. I see a revolution here—the little guys make the big gorilla scared.”

Eleanor: “Power in the meek?”

Heavy: “The guy on right doesn’t look like a gorilla to me, but he does look drunk.”

Eleanor: “Does he look like a Pygmie?”

Heavy: “No, he is a white guy. Is he a father who terrorized his family, and his kids turned agains him?”

Eleanor: “You mean Pygmies might be kids?”

Heavy: “They are all kid-sized, from what I know. They are good warriors, and together they are a force.”

Eleanor: “Little but mighty??”

Heavy: “Yes, and that guy on the right looks like an abusive father—he sure is not a good father!”

Eleanor: “He looks like an idiot.”

Heavy: “Because he is ugly, he is associated with a gorilla.”

Eleanor: “Ohhhh—he acts like a gorilla!”

Heavy: “I like gorillas. They are good animals and very protective with their family. But they are powerful and humans are scared of them.”

Eleanor: “The guy on the right is such a jerk, he shocks people. Ok, how about this: on the left, the eyes pretend—so we see what we want to see. we are small and misbehave, we color our perceptions. On the right, we are victims of drunk powerful jerks who act poorly and shock. Sooo—if we only see what we want to see, we can be shocked by reality. Hey that was some work!! I am proud of myself! But are these not simply visual riddles?”

Heavy: “Here is another one: the eye on left is a woman’s eye. She is afraid of that gorilla husband because he is abusive. The kids are all loud and wild, making her to really see him the way he is. Many women are abused for years and they don`t leave their husbands.”

Eleanor: “Well, I get the kids on the left, and the abuser on the right. I don’t see the woman.”

Heavy: “You can see more than just one story in this.”

Eleanor: “That is part of their intrigue. Do you think the words are too influential?”

Heavy: “The words lead you, they give you hints, they don`t explain the work.”

Eleanor: “I admit I read them right away, like how people, when reading articles, will always read the photo captions. The words are integral, even though they look pasted on.”

Heavy: “What you see in the end is what you decide to see.”

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Eleanor: “Fran Benoir is influenced by history and the works are eclectic. I do find this show inconsistent. What about this large piece over here? This one has some mystery. It is called ‘Dash Board.'”

Heavy: “With Jesus or is that Virgin Mary?”

Eleanor: “It looks like a Madonna. I don’t see a baby Jesus.”

Heavy: “The boards behind Madonna are blurry?”

Eleanor: “They are are moving. There are layers of them, too. Dashboard means navigation, direction.”

Heavy: “Oh those are inside a car! Those green lights are the gauges. This Madonna is walking on babies’ heads. Have you noticed that?”

Eleanor: “I notice the cherubs are below her. Maybe she is not such a nice person as she looks!”

Heavy: “This Madonna is not original—it is an image picked up from something old.”

Eleanor: “I just saw one of the dash boards move. If you watch, suddenly you see one jump. Fran Benoir does use some movement in many of her pieces.  This one changes slowly. Using change within two dimensional works uses more interactive potential from SL. It can integrate aspects of the work itself together as well as define a relationship with the environment, or even gain action from the viewer. In this case, the movement is limited only to draw attention to the navigational nature of the car. The Madonna doesn’t move. Is she the driver? She might signify wishful thinking, a hope that she will protect those in this moving environment.”

Heavy: “This work is a fight against traffic accidents. Madonna looks sad because many kids die crossing the streets.”

Eleanor: “Awwww, well, kids will die if you walk on them!!!”

Heavy: “This work doesn’t integrate too well. What has art to do with irresponsible driving?”

Eleanor: “Madonna stands in the front, like a bouncer at a dance club. The rest signifies travel, progression—from a car in motion. Madonna is like a stick in the mud who will not get out of the way.”

Heavy: “If madonna is so good she should have protect those kids, not walk on them.”

[Part 3—the story continues with the reviews, starting with Samara Barzane at Twilight Gallery]

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