Benita Carr and Bill Orisich reviews

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Carr & Orisich’s Video Collaboration at whitespace
January 30, 2018
By Jerry Cullum

Bill Orisich + Benita Carr’s 4-channel video installation ground.loop consists of three screens of images from the video and lines of poetry projected in the front gallery, and the full video in the back gallery. What it is, beyond that unhelpful description, may well depend on what experiences and assumptions you bring to it, even more so than with most films or videos. Read More.

Review: Benita Carr’s photos offer complicated look at motherhood

February 2, 2012
By Felicia Feaster

Photographer Benita Carr looks so deeply and provocatively into the emotions involved in motherhood in her solo show “Morning Sun,” viewers may feel an instinctive impulse to look away.

The photographs are mostly shot indoors in cluttered rooms filled with Barbie’s endless plastic junk, painting easels, toy cars and play kitchens. This bright, messy detritus spreads like black mold, crowding out the mothers who are often at the center of Carr’s moody color photographs. Evoking the odalisques of European oil paintings by Ingres or Manet, these moms dramatically sprawl out nude or near-nude on beds or floors. The inky shadows of venetian blinds cut up the space in classic film noir style.

With the mothers so exposed, both literally and figuratively, the children in the images can feel like tormentors. One little boy dressed like a comic book hero towers menacingly above his mother, as if vanquishing a supervillain. In one image of a supine nude mom, an angelic blond boy with a frighteningly intense look on his face aims a flashlight beam directly at his mother’s face. Such photographs convey the tyranny of children: how they can quite literally rule your life, for good and bad.

The women in Carr’s photographs evoke complex emotions. They are sympathetic in their angsty response to motherhood but at times hint at self-involvement, the case in one image of a vamping, high-heeled mother whose daughter skulks in the shadows.

In other words, these women are fully human and far from the flat, sunny popular culture image of maternity pitched in orange juice and minivan commercials. Carr’s mothers look like exotic animals entrapped within the home. You both pity their circumstance and enjoy the insight into their hidden lives.

Viewers may not relate to the very specific maternal demographic Carr offers up here. Much like photographer Nan Goldin, Carr uses subjects she knows well.

Carr has culled her moms from a specific socioeconomic group living in vintage, intown houses their expanding family has long overgrown, where creativity is more important than tidiness and children are breast-fed well past toddlerhood. These are women contending, in these gut-punch powerful images, with the loss of self; the comforting, sensual closeness; the exhaustion; the loneliness; the mess of raising young children. It would be interesting, though, to see Carr explore motherhood outside her peer group.

One of the most poignant subjects is a lovely woman captured in a still-image embracing her two young children. It is a gorgeous tableaux, filled with a complicated brew of loneliness and tenderness. In an accompanying video, “Day Is Done, Gone the Sun,” the mother tries to go about her routine of hanging laundry and tending her backyard chickens. She is patient and attentive but also looks overwhelmed traipsing around their overgrown backyard or junked-up carport in her jammies.

In the video, she tries to practice the cello, but her daughter won’t let her be. The mournful sounds emanating from the instrument suggest the mother’s own inner voice: poetic, sad and lost amidst the fracas.

This is art at its most heady and heartfelt. “Morning Sun” is sure to leave strong reactions — whether good or bad — in its wake.

Sexuality and Innocence in Benita Carr’s Morning Sun at Whitespace
January 25, 2012
By Grace Thornton

Morning Sun, Benita Carr’s exhibition of photography and video on display at Whitespace Gallery, gives motherhood further dimension with its visual contrast of warming early light and interior shadows, echoing the dualities of anxiety and independence, sexuality and innocence, and expectation and release within the modern mother. “Desire, doubt, and anxiety” are part of the motherly identity, as Carr purports in her artist’s statement and elucidates in her photographs. Read More.

Review: Photos and videos in Benita Carr’s “Morning Sun,” at Whitespace, explore darker side of motherhood.
Jan 18, 2012
By Joey Orr

In a time when an exalted concept of motherhood is exploited as a political wedge, Benita Carr’s exploration of the maternal experience in “Morning Sun,” at Whitespace gallery through February 18, walks a razor’s edge between internal and external, mythic and quotidian, love and abjection. Read More.