Augur (2014)
Marissa Lee Benedict
4-channel video installation at Chicago Artists Coalition


Presented by Chicago Artists Coalition’s BOLT Residency, Augur is an immersive installation produced by artist Marissa Lee Benedict. An extension of Benedict’s ongoing work with processes of research, collection, extraction, and cultivation, this solo exhibition features a 4-channel video installation depicting Benedict’s repeated attempts to collect a core sample from the arid, clay-hardened surface of Harper Dry Lake located in Hinkley, CA.
Working to cut into the parched ground, to gain a glimpse of what might lie beneath, Benedict’s attempts to gain traction in the harsh landscape via a series of gardening tools (a sledge hammer, a bucket, a shovel, a drill, and a series of pipes) and amateur soil sampling techniques. Histories of white settlement – gestures of knowing and claiming property – haunt the work, from Nauman to the US Public Land Survey System. In the 4-channel video, the 4 attempts (recorded at 4 times of day from dawn to sunset, installed in the 4 cardinal directions) remain opaque – an opacity that refracts attention onto the artist’s gestures, and their relation to the viewer’s presence. The show’s title, Augur, plays between the words "augur" – to portend a good or bad outcome of an event or circumstance, to foresee or predict– and "auger" – a hand tool often used by soil scientists, geologists and glaciologists to bore holes into the earth.