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 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 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, Recombinant Media Labs (RML), Sonic Arts Network, Forma, LUX and Lovebytes.
To date, Vicki has had 5 solo exhibitions and participated in 19 group shows at MAXXI (Rome), 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 and Sunbeam Studios (London). She will have a 6th solo show at Hallwalls in Buffalo NY in September 2020.
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).
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: 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 (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. 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. In 2018 Vicki has just completed a new solo a/v performance The Mirror which which is currently touring the UK and overseas, released an album under the same name, and produced the video for the spring 2018 The The Comeback Tour.
So far in 2019, Vicki is completing Gone, Gone Beyond, an hour-long seamless multiscreen and multi-speakered immersive installation with RML CineChamber. Vicki is a participant in Sound and Music’s New Voices programme, an a-n Artist Bursaries 2019 recipient, and will be Hallwalls Artist in Residence from 2019-2020.
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