The first artist's book by Will Benedict.
Bonjour Tourist is a demure compilation of the themes, the people, and the nuances dear to the LA-born artist. A conversation with Martin Guttmann—text messages exchanged over a five-month period—sheds some light on it all.
For the past several years Will Benedict has been working professionally as a photographer, painter, and tourist. Bonjour Tourist is a series of works relying on various combinations of gouache paintings and cut-out studio portraits, mounted in customized aluminium and foamcore frames. Organized in distinct series, they fulfil the nominal categories of newscasters, postcards, flags, couples having dinner and nations peeking in through windows. Compared to the kind of aesthetic stimulation experienced while watching TV the works are like watching two, maybe three channels at the same time.
In Benedict's works the buzzing clamor of things, places, foods and people are fossilized in lavishly painted waxed foamcore passepartout, freezing the sadness of the tourist and audience (the same thing) into an ever so slight hypomanic mixture of euphoria and irritability. Frozen along with everyone and everything in these passepartouts are paintings on canvas depicting a tits and penis nationalism that sells food at restaurants, plane ticket to exotic locals, walls or stamps.
Working within a process of deconstruction, hybridization, and recomposition of the image, the artist Will Benedict (born 1978 in Los Angeles, lives and works in Vienna) uses various media—from painting to video, from drawing to photography to curating exhibition projects—in order to reflect on the constitutive elements of representation and on the ways of interpreting and framing it, both visually and conceptually. The compositional and material heterogeneity of his works—often characterized by the coexistence of multiple semiotic levels—creates a sense of engaged ambivalence. In particular, his video works depict worlds that subvert both the codes of popular entertainment and the conventions of the avant-garde embedded in music videos, fashion spreads, YouTube tutorials, magazines, advertising, television, and film.