Artist statement for People Like Us

Vicki Bennett - press photoPeople Like Us 2016

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 Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, The Barbican, Centro de Cultura Digital, V&A, Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Pompidou Centre, Venice Biennale, Maxxi and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. The ongoing sound art radio show ‘DO or DIY’ on WFMU has had over a million “listen again” downloads. since 2003. The People Like Us back catalogue is available for free download hosted by UbuWeb.
Longer Biography
Filmography
Exhibitions and Editions
Selected Performances and Screenings
Commissions and Awards
Discography

BIOGRAPHY

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.

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.

Shorter Bio – Artist Statement
Filmography
Exhibitions and Editions
Selected Performances and Screenings
Commissions and Awards
Talks, Lectures
Discography

Vicki People Like Us 2016

Click below for hi-res photographs

Vicki - People Like Us 2016

Citation City at Whitechapel Gallery, London

On Saturday 26 September 2015, Citation City will be performed by People Like Us as part of the Walter Benjamin Now Symposium – a daylong event at Whitechapel Gallery paying homage to Walter Benjamin who died 75 years ago on this day. The performance will be at 4.40pm.
http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/events/walter-benjamin-now/
http://www.versobooks.com/events/1163-walter-benjamin-now

programme
Walter Benjamin

CITATION CITY

Update (2018) :
The soundtrack is now available for sale as a digital download:
https://peoplelikeus-vickibennett.bandcamp.com/album/citation-city-ost

citation city banner

Citation City is a 42 minute audiovisual performance work which sources, collages and edits 300 major feature films where content is either filmed or set in London – creating a story within a story, of the film world, living its life, through extraordinary times of change, to see what happens when these multiple narratives are combined… what will the story tell us that one story alone could never tell?

“The result is a sweeping panorama of London, a London as represented through cinema – not the real city at all, but one that exists in the collective imagination of moviegoers throughout the decades.” Filmmaker Magazine

Please note: this is now retired.  However, we occasionally make edits available as stand-alone movies for cinema screening.

A time-travelling voyage through one city, assembled from hundreds of movie clips and inspired by the wanderings of Walter Benjamin. A patchwork of over 300 features either filmed or set in London, Citation City combines multiple narratives to create the story of one city in a period of enormous change. Pieced together by audiovisual artist Vicki Bennett (aka People Like Us), this beguiling, labyrinthine work takes its cue from Benjamin’s Arcades Project, an ambitious attempt to map out Paris in fragments which was cut short by the author’s death in 1940. Flatpack Film Festival

Interview with Kenneth Goldsmith in Found Footage magazine about Citation City
Interview with Peter Jaeger in filling Station Issue 63 featuring Citation City

Background:
Inspired by The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin, this audiovisual performance work by People Like Us is created from 1000s of clippings of text and visual media, collaged using a system of “convolutes”, collated around subjects of key motifs, historical figures, social types, cultural objects from the time. By gathering and assembling such groups of similar yet unrelated, he revealed a hidden, magical encyclopaedia of affinities, a massive and labyrinthine architecture of a collective dream city. On reading Benjamin, his approach to editing astonished Vicki Bennett, and the similarity of their creative processes of cutting and collating extensive lists of subject matter by context.

As a side project, Vicki also invited selected sound artists to create distinct soundtracks to the work in order to produce two new films.

Performances:
9 December 2014 Cafe Oto preview http://www.cafeoto.co.uk/jennifer-walshe-sharon-gal-andie-brown-people-like-us.shtm
29 January 2015 World Premiere at transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
28 March 2015 UK Premiere at Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham, as part of a larger WFMU and Walter Benjamin-themed programme
17 April 2015 Parede, Portugal
18 September 2015 Bristol Encounters Short Film Festival
26 September 2015 Whitechapel Gallery at Walter Benjamin Now Symposium (at 5pm), London
15 October 2015 Leeds Art Gallery (private screening for students only)
24 October 2015 Monty Hall, WFMU
28 October 2015 Red Room, Baltimore
21 November 2015 Brighton Cinecity Festival
12 April 2016 Sonic Protest Festival, Paris
7 May 2016 Delco Festival, Nimes
23 November 2016 Dundee Contemporary Arts
March 2017 Hull UK City of Culture/ReROOTed
Citation City is now retired. However we now make it available for movie screenings.
October 2017
Other Cinema, San Francisco (20-minute stand alone movie edit)
December 2019 Dare Conference, Ghent (screening)

Vicki’s working process

A portion of Citation City previewed at London’s Cafe Oto on 9 December 2014 then World Premiered in full at transmediale, Berlin on 29 January 2015.  It’s UK Premiere was at Flatpack Film Festival on 28 March 2015, and London Premiere at Whitechapel Gallery on 26 September 2015 as part of the Walter Benjamin Now Symposium.

Citation City notes on the carpet
Vicki’s working process

Citation City education/teaching pack
PDF download: citation city teaching pack
We thought it may be useful to make a document explaining the process of making this work. This pdf is intended as a companion to the audiovisual work, giving examples of the process one might undertake to create new work when sourcing from a large media database. This particular example relates to moving image and musical composition, but the methods can translate to other platforms that use composition, directing, editing, creative narratives and story telling.

citationcityflooraug2014
SELECTION: Layout in paper form of descriptions of selected film content and possible subject headings (convolutes/citations) – August 2014

Press and articles:
Interview in Filmmaker Magazine (January 2015)
InEnArt Magazine (January 2015)

Vicki’s working process
The first stage after selecting footage is to type out descriptions of hundreds of segments then cut them out, and make arrangements of subjects, content, "convolutes"
The first stage after selecting footage is to type out descriptions of hundreds of segments then cut them out, and make arrangements of subjects, content, “convolutes”
Citation-City-Dictionary
Citation City
Vicki’s working process

Vicki Bennett/People Like Us
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 Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, The Barbican, Centro de Cultura Digital, V&A, Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Pompidou Centre, Venice Biennale, Maxxi and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. The ongoing sound art radio show ‘DO or DIY’ on WFMU has had over a million “listen again” downloads. since 2003. The People Like Us back catalogue is available for free download hosted by UbuWeb.
Longer Biography
Filmography
Exhibitions and Editions
Selected Performances and Screenings
Commissions and Awards
Discography
http://peoplelikeus.org/2014/artist-statement-for-people-like-us/

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