Betwixt 2024 publication. Courtesy of the Freelands Foundation.
In February 2023, Latitudes was commissioned to write a text on the artistic practice of Crystal Bennes for “Betwixt 2024”, a publication produced by the Freelands Foundation as part of their Freelands Artist Programme initiative supporting emerging artists across the UK since 2018.
The book has now launched, coinciding with the opening of an exhibition taking place across four sites in central and north London between 17–23 February 2024, in which Bennes participates alongside 19 other artists based in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Sheffield.For the occasion, Bennes presents “When Computers Were Women” (2021), a project on the connections between the histories of computational and weaving technology, that stemmed from a residency at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in 2018 when she was struck by the formal similarities of the computer programming punchcards she saw in a cabinet and an older form of data-processing technology: the punch cards used to control the rods and hooks that raise the warp threads of looms fitted with Jacquard devices.
Published in 2024, 370 pages. Designed by Kristin Metho.
Available for £15 (plus shipping) here.
A month later, on March 16, 2024, Bennes will present her new project “O (Copper, cotton, cobalt, crude, naphtha, bauxite, palm)” (2023) at Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh, culminating her two-year residency there and at the Edinburgh College of Art on the Freelands Artist Programme. Involving tapestry, sculptural installation, video, and performance, her project addresses the rapaciousness and sophistry of commodities trading, an arena in which financial instruments are used to bet on the future value of raw materials and natural resources including crude oil, metals, coffee, and cotton.
Latitudes’ text will also be available on the Talbot Rice Gallery website and in the gallery booklets, available for £2 at the venue.
A Classicist with a PhD from King’s College London, Dr Crystal Bennes previously worked in the U.S. Senate and as an architecture and design journalist before retraining as an artist. She studied for an MFA at Aalto University, Helsinki, and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and obtained a practice-based PhD at Northumbria University, Newcastle.
Her practice is grounded in long-term projects that foreground archival research, durational fieldwork, and material experimentation. Recent bodies of work include an ongoing photographic exploration of an artificial island in Sweden created entirely out of radioactive waste from industrially-produced synthetic fertiliser and the experimental recreation of a nineteenth-century hay meadow based on a myth of unintentional plant migration from Italy to Denmark.
Recent exhibitions include Platform: Early Career Artist Award, Edinburgh Art Festival (2023); Flora Italica, Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen (2023); Mauvaise Herbes, Centre Photographique d’Ile-de-France; No Island is an Island, Landskrona Foto International Festival; and Hermes and the Veil, Gallery North, Newcastle (all 2021).
Klara and the Bomb (2022) her first photobook—charting connecting threads between the U.S.’s nuclear weapons research, women programmers, the invention of modern computers, and nuclear colonialism—was published by The Eriskay Connection in 2022, and it was shortlisted for the Photo Text Book Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2023.
“Earlier this year, Latitudes was commissioned to write a text on the work of the America-born Scotland-based artist, researcher, writer and educator Crystal Bennes for the latest edition of the Freelands Artist Programme. ”
Cover Stories are published on a monthly basis on Latitudes’ homepage featuring past, present or forthcoming projects, research, texts, artworks, exhibitions, films, objects or field trips related to our curatorial projects and activities.
“Protruding from three of MACBA’s columns like sails lashed to the masts of a ship, Rosa Tharrats’ Akaal / Selene \ Uluru (2021) is composed of layers of woven and printed cloth that have been stitched and fused together in combination with composites of homemade bioplastics—polymers made from biological sources such as seaweed and starch that have the potential to alleviate the growing problem of marine pollution.”
→ After February 2022 this story will be archived here.
Cover Stories' are published on a monthly basis on Latitudes' homepage featuring past, present or forthcoming projects, research, texts, artworks, exhibitions, films, objects or field trips related to our curatorial projects and activities.