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 for 25 years. Since her first publication in 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 appropriation 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 record labels, 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 in conjunction with Centro de Cultura Digital, Mexico, PennSound at the University of Pennsylvania and WFMU.
As a solo artist or collaborator she has published more than 50 audio recordings and 35 video projects, with works released by labels including Illegal Art, Rough Trade, Soleilmoon, 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 and has had over a million individual “listen again” downloads. Her video work has been screened at Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, the National Film Theatre/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 she has also performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. People Like Us has been commissioned by The Arts Council England, The BBC, WDR, Great North Run Moving Image Commission, Sound and Music, Channel 4/Animate Projects, AV Festival, Sonic Arts Network, Forma, LUX and Lovebytes amongst others.
Consequences (One Thing Leads To Another), a live audio/video performance received its premiere at the 2013 transmediale in Berlin; Notations (2013), a film for live improvisers toured the UK with TUSK/Sound & Music in Autumn 2013; Gesture Piece, a film with seven invited artist soundtracks; two films for Animate Projects/Channel 4 television, UK, broadcast as part of their Random Acts series. Bennett’s most recent solo show Shutter was at Leeds College of Art in Spring 2014, and a new solo exhibition is being planned for Spring 2018.
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.
Currently, Vicki is focussing on expanding both audio and moving image work for the multiscreen and multi-speakered environment Cinechamber with Recombinant Media Labs – Gone, Gone Beyond, a forever changing 10 screen 8 speakers surround/seamless projection work, world premiered in San Francisco in October 2017. Vicki is also working on a new solo a/v performance The Mirror which will premiere in late spring 2018.