“Forgetting the Words” is the first solo exhibition in Los Angeles for Erik Benjamins, the current Fellow of the River Fellowship program. A suite of new work includes contact-scan photographs, a text installation, and the debut of a custom color. Bougainvillea at Magic Hour consists of life-size photographic reproductions of the nomadic plants made with a portable flatbed scanner in the Southern Californian landscape. Forgetting the Words, a list poem of words associated with physical pressure, references both the process in which bougainvillea photographs are made as well as more generally alluding to the body. Finally, the gallery walls have been painted in Cathedral City Grapefruit, a color that has been painstakingly matched to grapefruits from the artist’s late grandfather’s grapefruit tree in Palm Desert.
This exhibition continues Benjamins’ ongoing celebration of place as an instigator for embodied awareness. For several years, the artist has explored the frictions and wonders experienced when moving between the home and away place. Whether with a romanticized botanical symbol of the home, a written list on (body) pressures, or a color made with the intimate associations of family, time, and flavor, the works in Forgetting the Words serve as an intimate response to the artist’s Southern Californian home place.
The works within “Forgetting the Words” are imbued with a sensitivity to the performative and the process-oriented. The contact-scan photographs require a collapsing of distance that, while awkward and humorous, is also an act of physical power. Both the list poem and the use of color serve the creation of a sensory space for the visitor to consider their own relationship to place as it collides into personal desires, grander narratives, and aching bodies.