IAN GILES | Call Me Mr Benson
with Christopher Aque, Andrej Dúbravský and Stephanie Hier
Opening reception Thursday 25th October 2018 6pm-8pm
Open Saturday and Sunday 12 – 6pm and by appointment until 11th November 2019
Ian Giles’ exhibition centers around a new audio installation ‘Call Me Mr Benson’, a splicing together of the books ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (André Aciman, 2007) and ‘Mr Benson’ (John Preston, 1980). By working with the complete texts of these two bootlegged audio books, Giles creates parallel narratives of love and dominance. Both novels tell of passionate relationships between men. Unabridged and cut side-by-side the narratives are pressed up against each other to expose their similarities and tensions. Language loops between the two, phrases and patterns emerge. The relationships we find here are palpable – ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is thick with the drama of romance and summer heat; and ‘Mr Benson’ is charged with graphic sexual acts and total submission. When spoken aloud the installation’s title works in two ways: 'Call me Mr Benson' as a request for attention from a slave and 'Call me Mr Benson' as an instruction from a master.
As a S&M classic ‘Mr Benson’ pulses with sexual directness and features an old New York, a place of leather bars, fetish clubs and abandoned warehouses. ‘Call Me by Your Name’ (although set in the 80’s) is a contemporary love story - it is a frank elegy to human passion and teenage intensity. When John Preston’s novel ‘Mr. Benson’ appeared in the pre-AIDS early 1980s, its unabashed celebration of male sexuality made it a cult favorite among gay men, many of whom wore T-shirts declaring that they were "looking for Mr. Benson." In their own ways both books are about total intimacy, the power of being wanted, the power of desire and stretching the edges of our sexual psyche.
The daybeds that dominate the gallery space can be utilized as both domestic objects: a place to rest, listen and drift off – and also as a public space, a place to cruise and display yourself. Giles has created this communal space for both active and passive audience members to inhabit together.
Alongside his own works Giles has invited a selection of artists to populate the gallery walls with their work as a nod to the narratives and motifs found within the sound installation. In working with pre-existing artworks by Andrej Dúbravský, Christopher Aque and Stephanie Hier alongside found homoerotic drawings; Giles considers the exhibition space a blank film frame which he has freely collaged ready-made elements in to. Speaking of his process Giles says: ‘I have approached the installation in the same way I edit my films; building up a narrative within the space: I am working with familiar elements: a frame (the gallery), actors (the audience), imagery (artworks) and sound (the audio mix) – the structuring of these elements builds together to create a filmic space that we can inhabit together.”
“Give me a blindfold, hold my hand, and don't ask me to think—” Elio
Ian Giles (b. 1985, UK) recent exhibitions, screenings and performances include: After BUTT, NY Art Book Fair, MoMA PS1 (2018); Video Club: Sex Talks, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2018); After BUTT, Chelsea Space, London (2018); Multiplexing II, Cineworld Cinema, Glasgow with LUX Scotland (2017); IsToAsIsTo, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2016); Connected Works, Harvard University, Cambridge USA (2016); m-Health, Cell Project Space, London (2015); Free Time, Poole Museum (2015); 21st Century Screening, Chisenhale Gallery, London (2012); Glasgow International Festival (2012) and Whitstable Biennale (2010). Ian was an inaugural winner of the Shannon Michael Cane Award, created in memory of the former curator of the NY Art Book Fair. Ian completed his MFA in 2012 at Slade School of Fine Art , University College London and his BA in Fine Art in 2008 from Chelsea College of Arts, London. His recent exhibitions have been reviewed by Art Forum, Hyperallergic, Frieze, Out and Fantastic Man.
Ian wishes to thank Christopher Aque, Andrej Dúbravský and Stephanie Hier and the collection of Liutauras Psibilskis for the inclusion of their works within the exhibition.
Christopher Aque (b. 1987, Chicago) received his BA from the University of Chicago in 2009, his MFA from Hunter College in 2016, and was a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2012. His work has been included in exhibitions at SculptureCenter, New York; Laurel Gitlen, New York; Motel, Brooklyn, NY; and Regards, Chicago, among others. He was a 2017–18 AIRspace Resident at Abrons Arts Center, New York.
Andrej Dúbravský (b. 1987, Bratislava) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava, Slovakia. His paintings have been included in exhibitions at Dittrich & Schlechtriem, BerliN; DSC Gallery, Prague; Bridget Donahue, New York; Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York and Art Rotterdam, Netherlands, among others.
Stephanie Hier (b. 1992, Toronto ) holds a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto, and studied at the Academy of Art Canada, Toronto. She has produced numerous international exhibitions at venues such as David Dale, Glasgow; Neochrome Gallery, Turin; Thierry Goldberg, New York; Bureau, New York; The Kitchen, New York and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto). Hier has been awarded residencies at Shandaken: Stromking in Cornwall, New York. She is also the recipient of a Visual Arts Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.