Welcome to the only official site for People Like Us and Vicki Bennett
Since 1991 British artist Vicki Bennett has been working across the field of audio-visual collage, and is recognised as an influential and pioneering figure in the still growing area of sampling, appropriation and cutting up of found footage and archives. Working under the name People Like Us, Vicki specialises in the manipulation and reworking of original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film and radio. People Like Us believe in open access to archives for creative use. In 2006 she was the first artist to be given unrestricted access to the entire BBC Archive. People Like Us have previously shown work at, amongst others, Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, The Barbican, Centro de Cultura Digital, Maxxi and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. She has an ongoing sound art radio show 'DO or DIY' on WFMU. The People Like Us back catalogue is available for free download hosted by UbuWeb. Nothing Can Turn Into A Void – a doc film about People Like Us has been screening in cinemas and festivals since Autumn 2015.
Currently, Vicki is focussing on expanding a/v work for a multiscreen and multi-speakered environment with RML Cinechamber, with 10-screen work "Gone, Gone Beyond". Also a new People Like Us live performance "The Mirror" premiered at Onassis Cultural Centre Athens in Spring 2018 and now tours worldwide. October 2018 saw the release of a new CD/online album also called The Mirror. Vicki is a participant in Sound and Music New Voices 2018 programme, a-n Artist Bursaries 2019 recipient, and is Hallwalls Artist in Residence from 2019-2020.
“Different People” is an anthology of interviews by Swedish author Carl Abrahamsson, focusing on art, life and the creative process. Included are in-depth conversations with Conrad Rooks, Malcolm McLaren, Stelarc, John Duncan, Charles Gatewood, Mark McCloud, Ralph Metzner, Peter Beard, Bill Landis, Ralph Gibson, Maja Elliott, Michael Bowen, Bob Colacello, Dian Hanson, Anton Corbijn, June Newton, Kendell Geers, Simeon Coxe III (Silver Apples), Vicki Bennett (People Like Us), and Brian Williams (Lustmord). These groundbreaking artists, writers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, editors and psychedelic researchers have all helped shape the culture we live in. But what makes them do what they do? Which are their driving forces and their inspirations; their joys and fears? Trapart Books, 2021, 6 x 9” paperback, illustrated with photographic portraits, 292 pages.
“Hey, hey, have you ever tried… reaching out to the other side?”
Gone, Gone Beyond is an immersive a/v spatial cinema work by People Like Us, which breaks the rectangle, smashing the thin screen into tiny fragments, looking beyond the frame, climbing through to see what’s behind.
Commissioned by Naut Humon, the founder of immersive theatre project CineChamber, Gone, Gone Beyond is a 10 screen/8 speaker work by Vicki Bennett with seamless wrap around projection and surround sound, where the audience sit inside. It uses edited collage sewn together in a giant patchwork. Pull on a thread and watch whole new narratives expand and unravel all at once on a 360 palette. The project has been a work in progress since 2017, and we are currently expanding it from 45 minutes to over 1 hour 10 minutes, and will be making an announcement later this year about building a CineChamber in the UK and touring it to major UK venues in Autumn 2021.
History: the initial in-process tester movie screened in San Francisco in October 2017 at RML’s own Recombinant Festival at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Since then we have been continuing to work on content, and staged a private event in April 2019 at Goldsmiths SIML to encourage some partner support in the UK/Europe.
Review of private preview of Gone, Gone Beyond at Goldsmiths, London:
Privileged to attend an absolutely marvellous event at Goldsmiths College, a unique piece of immersive 360 degree cinema put together principally by People Like Us aka Vicki Bennett. It builds on her previous work, juxtaposing familiar film and music to unsettling effect; one such instance is a visual/soundclash of Julie Andrews singing “The hills are alive . . .” spliced with footage from Apocalypse Now and The Doors’ “The End”. But the audio and imagery builds layer upon layer to a meaningful, psychedelic cacophony, layer upon layer of the familiar; MOR, The Beatles, Kraftwerk and much, much more over an elaborate, kaleidoscopic sensurround collage of footage featuring the likes of Orson Welles, Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn, as well as dancers, dervish sequences and set pieces from avant garde-inspired Hollywood design.
The familiar and the unsettling; that’s the idea. Taking these film clips out of their original contexts, presenting them as part of a gushing continuum of dynamism, breakthrough, without resolution; because, in life, there is no resolution, no end to the story, simply this multiple, simultaneist mass of concurrent narratives, whose sheer kinetic energy, like an ever-flowing waterfall, is the real story that cinema is telling us; “endings” are mere temporary hiatuses, the definition of fiction; this is a meticulous, deceptively chaotic audiovisual blast like no other. And it deserves to be seen by everyone. — David Stubbs (April 2019)
We are pleased to announce a new audiovisual immersive cinema performance by People Like Us called The Mirror, performed (and screened in Theatrical form if in the US) from March 2018 worldwide.
The Mirror is a live a/v performance which splices together movie snippets with unique sample-based music exploring the masks that we wear represented through the lens, using parallel narratives across the screen to depict an ever-changing stream, rather than a singular, fixed being, narrative or moment in time.
“A feat of research and craft, this new work is a spellbinding inquiry into editing and juxtaposition; a collage one can unthread allowing the viewer to discover hidden stories through familiar images. The soundtrack is performed live, made up from hundreds of preexisting songs, as well as particular sounds from the original film clips.” — Flatpack Film Festival
”With The Mirror Bennett has proven herself an alchemist of popular music, able to push her source material into fresh and engaging places.” — The Wire
”Because of the use of familiar pop sounds, “The Mirror” is often grandiose. Like an epic film only with highs, never letting the listener down or letting him doubt the power of pop. Even, of course, when the coordinates are twisted, mixed, over or underrepresented. Each moment feels like something that could only happen in a parallel universe. Although that may sound naïve, it’s just a lost thought of reaction to the beautiful collages of People Like Us in “The Mirror”. This mirror doesn’t reflect an image of ourselves or an image of pop. But an image on the way memories drift and are being constant rebuilt. An unfinished collage.” — Boomkat
“Bennett celebrates the song stylists, the crooners, the sirens and interpreters of melody, and all the psychedelic in-between. The songs she pulls from seem to stem between 30’s ballroom and 70’s soft disco, here presented like being in a deep REM-state, dreaming of being at the drive-in, in warped Panavision. Essential.” toneshift.net
18 March 2018 – World Premiere: Athens Greek Film Archive Foundation (as part of Shadow Libraries: UbuWeb in Athens, organised and produced by the Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens) – tickets/info 13 April 2018 – UK Premiere: Liverpool FACT – tickets 17 April 2018 – Belfast Film Festival at Crescent Arts Centre – tickets 20 April 2018 – London Cafe Oto – tickets 21 April 2018 – Birmingham Flatpack Festival – tickets 12 May 2018 – London Splice Festival, at Rich Mix – tickets 11 July 2018 – London Cafe Oto, double bill with Carl Stone – tickets 19 July 2018 – Gijón LEV Arenas Movedizas – free entry 26 July 2018 – MACBA, Barcelona – tickets 17th September 2018 – Theatrical Screening (not live) – Bryce’s Show on WFMU 19th & 20th September 2018 – Theatrical Screening (not live) – Spectacle Theater, Brooklyn – tickets 20 October 2018 – 100 Years of Copyright Festival, Berlin HKW – tickets 2 November 2018 – Spill Festival, Ipswich – tickets 10 November 2018 – Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo Norway – tickets 15 November 2018 – Brighton “Cinecity” Film Festival at Fabrica – tickets 30 November 2018 – Theatrical Screening (not live, we do not perform in concerts in the US) Recombinant Festival, Gray Area, San Francisco – tickets 9 February 2019 – Theatrical Screening (not live, we’ll not be there) – The Voix de Ville 2019 / ARTxFM annual fundraiser at Columbia Theatre, Louisville Kentucky – tickets 27 March 2019 – Musikbrauerei, Berlin – tickets 6 April 2019 – Theatrical Screening (not live) – Other Cinema, ATA, Valencia St, San Francisco – tickets 23-28, April 2019 –Theatrical Screening at AFO Olomouc, Czech Republic. 9 May 2019 – Venice Biennale at HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails by Kenneth Goldsmith after the opening reception. RSVP 14 June 2019 – Newcastle Culture Lab – The Mirror and Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear 22 June 2019 – Iklectik Art Lab, London 15 September 2019 – Theatrical Screening (not a concert) at 21C Museum Hotel, Lexington, KY (introduced by Hearty White) 28 September 2019 – Theatrical Screening (not a concert) at Radius Gallery Santa Cruz, CA 5 March 2020 – Theatrical Screening (not a concert) WFMU Benefit at Monty Hall, Jersey City April – ?? 2020 – all current activities affected by the current pandemic 28 July 2020 – 4 August 2020 – Virtual screening (pandemic rescheduling) at Le Nouveau Musée National de Monaco http://4cast.fr/peoplelikeus/NMNM/ 6 November 2020 – MAAT, Lisbon – virtual performance of The Mirror 21 November 2020 – BBMix Festival 2020, Paris (cancelled – pandemic)
If you are a festival organiser with a budget and are interested in booking this, please get in touch by way of our Contact Form. If you are in a country requiring a work visa to perform we can in very special circumstances make this work into a stand alone movie, but generally this is only available as a performance with the artist present and you will need to gain necessary papers for us to agree.
Under the name “People Like Us,” artist Vicki Bennett has been making work available via CD, DVD and vinyl releases, radio broadcasts, concert appearances, gallery exhibits and online streaming and distribution since 1992. Bennett has developed an immediately recognisable aesthetic repurposing pre-existing footage to craft audio and video collages with an equally dark and witty take on popular culture. She sees sampling and collage as folk art sourced from the palette of contemporary media and technology, with all of the sharing and cross-referencing incumbent to a populist form. Embedded in her work is the premise that all is interconnected and that claiming ownership of an “original” or isolated concept is both preposterous and redundant. Most of the People Like Us back catalogue has been available for free online since 2002. For many artists, profit and publicity is more likely through free distribution (the gift economy) than independent publishers and distributors, which often struggle with limited resources. Online self-distribution allows an artist to keep their work available, resolving a tension between label production costs and the desire of an artist for work to be available. UbuWeb generously hosts the discography and filmography of People Like Us.
As a solo artist or collaborator Vicki has published more than 35 video projects and 50 audio recordings, with works released by labels including Illegal Art, Rough Trade, Soleilmoon Recordings, Discrepant, Sonic Arts Network and Touch. Vicki’s DO or DIY show on the fiercely independent New York City-market radio station WFMU has run since 2003. Her video work has been screened at Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, BFI, Purcell Room, the Barbican, the ICA, V&A. Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Sonar (Barcelona), MAXXI/National Museum of XXI Century Arts (Rome), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and Centro de Cultura Digital (Mexico City), among other institutions. Video works have been aired on Channel 4 and radio sessions created for John Peel and Mixing It. People Like Us has been commissioned by Arts Council England, The BBC, WDR, Great North Run, Sound and Music, Channel 4/Animate Projects, AV Festival, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Recombinant Media Labs (RML), Sonic Arts Network, Forma, LUX and Lovebytes.
To date, Vicki has had 6 solo exhibitions and participated in 19 group shows at MAXXI (Rome), Venice Biennale, HMKV (Dortmund), Centro de Cultura Digital (Mexico), Hatton Gallery (Newcastle), Vitrine (London), alt.gallery (Newcastle), Greene County Council for the Arts Gallery (NY), Peacock Visual Arts (Aberdeen), Pallant House (Chichester), Engramme (Quebec), La Scatola Gallery (London), Changing Room (Stirling), Franklin Street Works (Connecticut), Usurp Gallery (London), University of Greenwich Galleries, Matthew Gallery (Dundee), Edinburgh Printmakers, Millennium Gallery (Sheffield) Leeds College of Art, Sunbeam Studios (London) and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center (NY).
The work of People Like Us has been featured in many publications, including Sounds Like Silence – 4’33’’ Silence Today (Spectre Books 2012), The Journal of Writing In Creative Practice (Vol 7 Issue 1 2015), The Fundamentals of Sonic Art and Design by Tony Gibbs (Ava Publishing 2007), Cutting Across Media by Kembrew McLeod (Duke University Press 2011), Here To Go – Art, Counter-Culture and the Esoteric (Forum Nidrosiae 2014), Incredible Machines by Danny Snelson (avant 2014), Sensations of History (University of Minnesota Press 2019) and she has written for The Wire’s Collateral Damage (February 2012). In 2020 Vicki will have a whole chapter dedicated to her work in Duchamp Is My Lawyer The Polemics, Pragmatics, and Poetics of UbuWeb by Kenneth Goldsmith on Columbia University Press.
People Like Us has been reviewed in The Wire, BBC website, Bizarre Magazine, Rolling Stone, Frieze, The Independent, Record Collector, Time Out, Film Comment, The Guardian, The Scotsman, XLR8R, Baltimore City Paper, Sight and Sound, NME, Metro and San Francisco Bay Guardian, and interviewed for Found Footage Magazine (2016), The Observer (2006), Filmmaker Magazine (2015), The Wire (2014, 2011, 2008, 1999), Sight and Sound (2013), a-n Magazine (2012), Wired (2012), RadioWeb MACBA (2010), Sound and Music (2011), Sound Projector (2012, 2000), Bizarre Magazine (1999), NME (1995, 1996). On radio I’ve been interviewed on Late Junction (2016), Soundproof (ABC Radio National 2016), WDR 3 Open Sounds (WDR 2016), Cutting Up The Cut Up (BBC Radio 4 2015), North by Southwest (British Council 2012) PM (BBC Radio 3 2010), Twenty Minutes (BBC Radio 3 2009) and Mixing It (BBC Radio 3 2004).
Vicki has also curated publications and events: First Person, Fourth Wall (2020), Optimized! Expanded Radio Stream, WFMU (2016), Concert of Collage, Encounters Festival, Bristol (2015), Radio Boredcast, 744 hour radio station, AV Festival (2012), Nothing is New, Everything is Permitted event, AV Festival (2010), Sonic Arts Network CD Smiling Through My Teeth (2008) and a Humour in Music event, Purcell Room for Ether Festival (2002).
Notations, a film for live improvisers toured the UK with TUSK/Sound & Music in Autumn 2013; two films for Animate Projects/Channel 4 television, UK, broadcast as part of their Random Acts series. In 2015, Vicki created A/V performance Citation City, using techniques of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project in relation to London-based feature films. Nothing Can Turn Into A Void – a documentary film about People Like Us has screened in cinemas and festivals since Autumn 2015, and No One Is An Island, a radio work created for WDR, broadcast in April 2016. The Expanded Radio online/virtual commission/artist residency Optimized! broadcast on WFMU in June 2016. Since 2018, Vicki has been touring her solo a/v performance The Mirror, released an album under the same name, and produced the video for the spring 2018 The The Comeback Tour. She was participant in Sound and Music’s New Voices programme, and a-n Artist Bursaries 2019 recipient. The 45 minute radio art commission I Can Fly aired on WDR in Spring 2020.
In 2021 Vicki is making more content and production for Gone, Gone Beyond, an hour-long seamless multiscreen and multi-speakered immersive installation with RML CineChamber which will tour the UK in Autumn/Winter 2021 (announcement coming soon).
People Like Us and Porest were both due to perform live concerts at MAAT in Lisbon on 6 November but unfortunately because of the pandemic we will not be travelling. So instead our work will be screened in the gallery on the same date. Details above.
This is now cancelled because of the current global situation – more specifically because of the French month-long lockdown.
People Like Us will perform The Mirror at BBMix Festivalon Saturday 21 November 2020 at Carré Belle-feuille, Paris in the 3pm to 7pm portion of the festival. The festival has adjusted hours to allow for the curfew. / € 11
Tickets available in advance on the above link. Unlike most of our activities this year, we will be there in person performing it, so long as we are able at the time of travel (in accordance with the ongoing global situation). Please continue to check the festival website for updates.
DO or DIY with People Like Us will return to the radio for three hours on Wednesday 19 August 2020, filling in for Ken Freedman from 9-Noon NY Time, that’s 2-5pm UK. Tune in at http://wfmu.org and join us on the live playlist/comments at https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/95740
HALLWALLS CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER, 341 DELAWARE AVE.BUFFALO, NY 14202 Gallery hours: Tuesday-Friday 11am-6pm | Saturday 11am-2pm Curated by Carolyn Tennant |Radio content Programmed by Vicki Bennett
This multi-tiered project features an onsite new film and 6 channel audio collage work in the Hallwalls gallery, a virtual film retrospective, and a series of online micro-commissions programmed by the artist, where collaborators across the field of visual, audio and textual art respond to the subjects of first person / the fourth wall. The retrospective screening features archive and new content from Vicki Bennett’s 30 years of creating work under the name People Like Us. To coincide with the exhibition is a new second edition of her artist’s book The Fundamental Questions co-authored with Gregor Weichbrodt, available exclusively in house at Hallwalls, all made possible in part with a major grant to HARP (Hallwalls Artists-in-Residence Project) from the Multidisciplinary program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), a federal agency, with additional support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Visual Art Program of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), M&T Bank, and Erie County.
The commissions and elements from the onsite exhibition are archived at WFMU from 11 September 2020, alongside visual elements on the accompanying web pages, which will be linked to with QR codes in the accompanying gallery brochure.
We have a virtual exhibition/screening at Le Nouveau Musée National de Monaco starting today – this came about as the result of the pandemic cancellation of our performance of The Mirror. You can now watch this (and others) here for the next 2 weeks. http://4cast.fr/peoplelikeus/NMNM/
The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, in collaboration with the Théâtre Princesse Grace, had originally invited People Like Us to interpret her live cinema performance The Mirror. The performance was to be part of the associated program of the exhibition Variations – Eugène Frey’s Light Set Projections presented by João Maria Gusmão at the Villa Paloma until August 30th. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic the performance was postponed. However the intention to disseminate and promote the artist’s work has enabled a rescheduling and made available a selection of the artist’s works which will be accessible for the duration of one week.
People Like Us will be streaming the video The Horror!! on Forma’s website between 18 May until 20 May 2020:
A selection of artists, including People Like Us, who have contributed to Forma’s 18 year history, as well as present and future collaborators, have chosen existing work to return to in a time of change, uncertainty and adaptation. Each film will be screened for 72 hours, with new work made available every Monday and Thursday in the upcoming weeks. Each film will be accompanied by a short Q&A between the artist and Forma, asking what has changed, what has stayed the same and what they’ve been up to in the meantime.
The programme will launch on the 11 May on this page; screenings will be announced via Forma’s Instagram and Twitter channels. The People Like Us film will screen between 18 May until 20 May 2020.
Q&A with Leila Hasham, Deputy Director (Maternity Cover)
You source your clips from both audio and moving image pre-existing material to weave new threads and create patchworks of associations. How do you decide on a particular pairing and sequencing of audio and visual material?
I choose an umbrella subject, big enough to have room for all sorts of tangents. For instance my current live performance (sigh… remember those?) is called The Mirror, which allows for all sorts of threads to do with the obvious reflection but also more interesting and obscure twists and turns in context and content like that of surface, duality, screens, frames and so on. The pairings are sometimes ideas that come in advance, but more often from collecting subject matter, hundreds of clips for several months then putting them together on a computer audio or visual timeline and moving them around to see how they talk to each other.
What prompted you to look at the darker side of celluloid in The Horror!!?
I don’t actually watch horror films for entertainment (although I did when I was a teenager). But I like how in these movies everyone is equal – both the goodies and the baddies are having a bad time, they are all suffering at once, and then you have to remind yourself when you get spooked that they are all actors pretending to have a bad time – and I like the way that stories are often so real that we are so tied into the plot that we can be deeply affected, because it is so much like our own minds, full of stories… but only a certain amount of stories exist, and we just put new names and places onto these things.
In a post-digital world, what role do physical archives play?
Time is a funny thing, and this is what we are referring to with definitions like this. They don’t mean that much to me. We are all dealing with the present. And as you read this that previous sentence is the past. It is all relative, and we all relate, we are all interconnected. What role does any archive play is the bigger question, not what format it is – it is a library, which needs to be shared or it is dead, much like our memories and experiences. What role do they play? They are a point of connection from which to move forward with our lives.
This is a strange time since time is both long and short at the same time, and the mass consciousness right now feels very disturbed and I’m finding it very hard to concentrate on art. I am able to do admin though, so that’s an interesting thing! What are you currently working on and how are you passing the time and staying sane?
“To stay sane” I’ve been tuning into London Buddhist Centre on YouTube most days, and also doing Zoom meditations with a couple of different groups. In addition I’ve been at my allotment, which feels like the only normal place right now.
What you up to? is an unfolding online screening programme, inviting artists who have contributed to Forma’s 18 year history of creative production and commissioning to select an existing moving image work to revisit in a time of global change. In accompanying socially-distanced Q&As, Forma staff and the artists catch up on how practices and perspectives are shifting, and what is keeping us occupied during quarantine. Films will be available to stream on the Forma website for 72 hours, updating on Monday and Thursdays.