Rivers’ practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Often following and filming subjects who have in some way separated themselves from society, he creates oblique narratives, imagining alternative existences in marginal worlds. Rivers uses near-antique cameras and hand develops the 16mm film, resulting in films which show evidence of the elements they have been exposed to. The materiality of the medium forms part of the narrative.
For his exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, Rivers is producing two major new film works: the first is developed from a recent trip to the remote sub-tropical island of Tanna in the South Pacific, whose ecosystem has, since his film documentation, been irrevocably devastated by Cyclone Pam; the second a portrait of painter Rose Wylie at work in her studio, reflecting the meeting of two artists and their creative processes.
Alongside his solo presentation, Ben Rivers is curating a group show based on the idea of ‘edgelands’. The artist-curated exhibition will bring together works – such as J G Ballard’s Concrete Island, Helen Levitt’s New York street photos, works by self-taught photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Keith Arnatt’s 'A.O.N.B. (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty)', and Robert Smithson’s photos and text piece, Tour of Monuments of the Passaic – to explore shared interests in withdrawal from the mainstream social narrative, the peripheries of society and the overlooked fringes of the city.