Mark Benson: Get the Flu
‘Get the Flu’
September 1st – 27th
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 1st, 6-10pm
Ever Gold Gallery presents Get the Flu, a new body of work by Mark Benson. In his first solo exhibition at the gallery, Benson explores avenues of comfort and relief through his conceptual practice. Looking to visualize the natural desire to be comfortable, safe, and healthy, Benson explores a selection of everyday appliances and their significance in our culture. The objects and imagery used in Get the Flu reference the ways in which we aspire to control elements of our lives, from atmospheric surroundings to personal health. Control is a continuing concern in Benson’s work and is activated here by asking viewers to engage with objects such as space heaters, air conditioners, and the flu vaccine.
Fundamental comfort is something that everyone is entitled to. Basic needs such as warmth and health are obvious necessities in life. At some point, the need for comfort goes beyond basic and becomes something profound, where the idea of discomfort is unheard of. There is excess in how we obtain comfort in the endless ways available to achieve it. We go to great lengths to prevent uneasiness, and in some cases these efforts have a larger negative effect than positive. Get the Flu approaches these concerns in straightforward, humorous ways, and is as much a physical experience as a visual one.
For his exhibition at Ever Gold Gallery, Benson will present a grouping of space heaters and air conditioners in separate rooms of the gallery. As the viewer moves through the space, they are confronted with both hot and cold sensations which begin as pleasant, then become uncomfortable. As objects, the artist finds these appliances endearing in their design; utilitarian, and simultaneously tacky and attractive. They are funny. They are helpful and useful, but at the same time dangerous. Benson uses the heaters and AC units sculpturally as a medium through which to investigate imitation as well. The temperatures they produce, while designed for relief, are emblematic of a fever or the chills when intensely heightened.
For the night of the opening reception, there will be a nurse administering flu shots* --a practice the artist is at odds with. The flu shot holds power to Benson--on a large scale, vaccines help control pandemics, but in turn, participate in the increasing precariousness of infectious diseases. The physicality of the heaters and AC units complicates the experience of receiving a flu shot, asking the viewer to consider his or her participation in controlling their personal well-being and the benefits and disadvantages of modern definitions of comfort.
Reservations now being accepted for editioned flu shots; each shot comes with corresponding certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.
*Shot is an actual seasonal flu vaccine that will be administered by a registered nurse.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.
Mark Benson, b.1978, Denver, CO, pulls things out of the world and reestablishes them in sculpture, painting, and photographs. He received his MFA from California College of the Arts in 2011. He is participating in the group exhibition First Act at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City this August through November 2012, and has exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Chicago, and Denver. He lives and works in San Francisco.