Through video, sculpture, and performance, Ben Thorp Brown’s (born 1983, New York) work deals with the effects of ongoing economic, environmental, and technological change. Whereas his installation Toymakers (2014) explored human labour underpinning the production of deal toys - mementos intended to commemorate a financial transaction - his most recent film, Gropius Memory Palace (2017), set in the Fagus shoe last factory in Alfeld, which was the first industrial commission for Walter Gropius, has shifted to focus on the relationship between memory and architecture, embodied experience and perception.
Building on these concerns The Arcadia Center, the second episode of the "New Sanctuary", explores empathy as a critical capacity and an expression of our perception of the spaces in which we dwell. Comprising a sound piece (Exercise, 2019), a sculpture (Shrine, 2019), and a newly commissioned film (Cura, 2019), The Arcadia Center is imagined as a speculative training space for a world that needs to restore its empathic abilities. Exercise is a sound piece inspired by a seminar by Helen Riess, a professor of psychiatry, to train doctors and nurses in the empathic care of their patients. Shrine, a sculpture made out of glass and Jericho Roses, also called Resurrection Plants, evokes both the fragility of organic life and the potential for its survival.
In the another adjacent room of the Jeu de Paume, will be presented Cura, the newly commissioned film for Satellite's programme, an immersive video installation features the Richard and Dion Neutra VDL Research House II on Silver Lake Reservoir in Los Angeles. Austrian-American architect Richard Neutra viewed architecture as a therapeutic tool and designed projects in which each environmental element was carefully designed to elicit human sensory and emotional responses. The main protagonist of the film is a tortoise, an ancient animal that embodies Cura, the goddess of care, voiced by American vocalist Joan La Barbara. While guiding us through the different rooms of the house, the tortoise delivers a monologue that mixes mythology and passages from Neutra’s main philosophical treatise, Survival by Design (1954).
Adopting the form of an Arcadian sanctuary, where dwellers can enjoy an idyllic, timeless existence, The Arcadia Center calls for an architectural experience inspired by ancient mythology and the fields of psychology and neuroscience. The exhibition highlights the interplay of interpersonal and environmental forces, prompting the empathic imagination to reconnect with people, animals, and the natural world.
Brown’s recent work has been presented in exhibitions at the St. Louis Art Museum; Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016, The Whitney Museum; Greater New York, MoMA PS1; 24/7 the human condition, Vienna Biennale; and Chance Motives, SculptureCenter, New York. He has participated in residencies through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace programme and at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, TX. He received a BA from Williams College and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program. He currently teaches in the BFA and MFA programmes at Parsons The New School. He has received awards supporting his work from Creative Capital and the Graham Foundation.