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Still from Althea Thauberger's "Preuzmimo Benčić (Take Back Benčić)," (2014).

Still from Althea Thauberger’s “Preuzmimo Benčić (Take Back Benčić),” (2014).

This January, I sat down with Kim Simon and an awesome cast of cultural workers and artists to discuss Althea Thauberger’s latest film, Preuzmimo Benčić (Take Back Benčić) (2014), as part of its exhibition at Susan Hobbs. Like so much of Thauberger’s work, the film layers subjectivities through performativity, the role of the artist brushing up against the agency of her collaborators, where the beginning and end of Thauberger’s direction is unclear. Saelan Twerdy has said of Thauberger’s work (and I referenced it in the conversation that afternoon), that it asks a viewer to consider who authors the roles they feel they must play. Preuzmimo Benčić refracts this question through time and across political ideologies. Filmed in Rijeka, Croatia, with a cast of over 60 child performers, it documents an occupation of an unused factory amidst its real-life possible redevelopment. Having no doubt inherited stories of their parents’ experiences with communism, the children create a drama of the factory in its worker-managed past, where the imagined desires of labourers brush up against the invented agendas of factory bosses and town politicians. Our discussion at the gallery centred around the complexities of what the film made visible and what remained concealed, in terms of its making and its reception. The gallery has published an edited document of conversation here, and though it is impossible to capture the energy and reciprocity at play in conversation through text, the document does capture something about the complexity and resonance of Thauberger’s work. It’s one of her best, in my opinion.


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