James Benning b. 1942
Two Faces (2010)
Between July, 2007 and June, 2008, veteran independent film-maker,James Benning built replicas of two iconic American Cabins in a remote part of the High Sierras- Henry David Thoreau’s hut from Walden Pond and the one-room plywood shack in rural Montana from which Theodore John Kaczynski (the ‘Unabomber’) conducted his 16-year bombing campaign via the U.S. mail. The juxtaposition of these two simple structures invokes and implicates deeply conflicted and enduring foundational American myths concerning the scope and meaning of personal liberty, civic responsibility and the rule of law; individual conscience, democracy and civil disobedience; the transcendental value of nature, wilderness and the god-given right to exploit natural resources; American exceptionalism, environmental conservationism and faith in technological progress; the imperative to make oneself (anew), to ’succeed’ and, if necessary, to secede.