THE END OF THE PATRIARCHAL SYSTEM, an exhibition of sculpture, sound, composition,
digital print and drawing by Jane Benson, will open on May 3rd, 2019, at LMAKgallery,
NY. Working across several mediums Benson re-iterates and re-petitions the revolutionary
work of British suffragette Mona Caird.
The works presented in THE END OF THE PATRIARCHAL SYSTEM are an extension of
Benson’s interest in the creative potential of destruction, estrangement, and disorientation.
Dismantling and reconstructing the classical structural form of the written text, Benson
transcends the familiar and linear, cracking open perception by imbuing the object as well as
historical subject with a regenerated role and function.
In the 1890s novelist, philosopher, academic and fierce feminist Mona Caird wrote a series
of texts critiquing the status and destiny of women, oriented around subjects such as pursuit
of career to self-sufficiency in marriage. Benson begins with a series of Caird’s essays,
including The End of the Patriarchal System, A Moral Renaissance, and A Defense of the
“Wild Women”, then re-writes and radically redacts the work. Benson excises all text, save
the syllables of the musical score — do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti — revealing a found score. The
excavated score hovers outside the original narrative of Caird’s essays belonging but
separate revealing a tone reflective of the repressed history of women.
In a further step, Benson translates the excavated scores into ethereal, color field prints
based on Isaac Newton's Color Spectrum. Layers of dots in various hues, representing
syllables of the solfège, create a moiré effect while evoking a critical and ever-evolving visual
embodiment of women’s rights. The work’s luminosity reflects a contemporary re-awakening
of the continued crisis addressed in Caird’s revolutionary texts.
A new sound sculpture, Limited Mobility Mobile X, takes central position in the gallery.
The sound emitted from the active speakers of Limited Mobility Mobile X is a recording of the
excavated score from one of Mona Caird’s philosophical texts “The Natural Principles of
Society—Morals—Politics”. Whilst excising the text, Benson made the uncanny realization
that, along with the solfège, certain words remain as a result of them being a combination of
the syllables of the musical scale — for example, tire and fare. The words that remain,
speak to the plight of women in society, for example, we are tired of the injustice; women do
not fare well etc. The score is performed by mezzo-soprano, Hai-Ting Chinn. Chinn hums the
syllables of the score and pronounces each of the found words.
Limited Mobility Mobile X consists of circular black speakers delicately attached to a curved
steel rod and hanging lengths of speaker wire. The work is playfully reminiscent of Calder’s
early mobile sculptures, though, two ball-like speakers that hang and touch the ground
encumber any freedom of movement. Limited Mobility Mobile X echoes the limited mobility of
women throughout history.
In a process of disruption and collaboration, Benson thus re-engages with the
ground-breaking texts of Mona Caird, creating absences that are, in turn, stitched together
across time and medium. In this, THE END OF THE PATRIARCHAL SYSTEM not only
gestures toward the work of a single author, but also vocalizes with urgency the incomplete
state of women’s equality in current times.
Born in Thornbury, UK, Jane Benson lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Benson is
a multi-disciplinary artist who works primarily in sculpture, drawing, video, and sound. She is
concerned with division and connection, the disruption of archetypal structures, and the
experience of displacement. Benson has exhibited in national and international venues
including MoMA PS1, NY; Sculpture Center, NY; Aldrich Museum, CT; The Institute of
Contemporary Art, PA; The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, UK; the San Jose
Museum of Art, CA; North Carolina Museum of Art, NC; and Kunsthalle Emdem, Germany.
Benson has also had numerous solo exhibitions, including at Contemporary Arts Center, OH;
LMAKgallery, NY; Pavel Zoubok Gallery, NY; Boca Raton Museum of Art, FL. Her work has
been reviewed in publications such as the NY Times, ArtForum, the New Yorker, Bomb
magazine, Art in America, Time Out New York, Kuntsforum and Monopol, among others.
Benson’s first monograph was published by Skira, March 2019.