BIO

Marissa Lee Benedict (b. 1985, Palm Springs, CA, US) is a sculptor, writer, and lecturer. Considering subjects that range from technologies of water management to the laying of fiber optic cable, her work draws on traditions of American land art and systems aesthetics to cut holes in contemporary forms of power – in particular those rooted in technology, circulation, and global infrastructures. Benedict received an MFA in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has exhibited at venues such as The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, and the CUE Art Foundation (NYC); and, in collaboration with artist David Rueter, at the US Pavilion as part of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale; at Contemporary Art Brussels; and at The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago. She has participated in numerous national and international residencies, most recently as a participant in the 2018-19 program at the Van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL).


ARTIST STATEMENT

Two small copper pipes hammered into the center of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty: one positively charged, the other negatively charged. A low-voltage current runs between the two, freeing copper ions and collecting sodium and chlorine, creating a crusty blue-green patina on one pipe as the other slowly blackens and weakens. Snow has accumulated on the basalt rocks of Spiral Jetty, and the air is so still you can hear the faint hiss and crackle of bubbles bursting as electricity reacts with salt and copper and water.

Pushing-off from gestures of American land art and systems aesthetics of the 1960s and 70s, I work sculpturally through installation, video, and writing to cut holes through contemporary forms of power – in particular those rooted in technology, circulation, and global infrastructures.

With material languages, gestures and metaphors drawn from what I term "chemical architectonics,” 1 I find organizing principles for my work: in spaces where the virtual becomes fragile and physical; in conditions of flexibility made brittle; in histories that reveal the long lines of colonial claims burning through the smooth facade of institutional technology. My work feels for material moments where a system’s infrastructural joinery is weak, pocked with dry rot,2 or off-kilter. Seeking to further open and examine these joints, the work subtly quivers, turns, drips, rotates, cracks, balances, inhales, exhales, evaporates, condenses, pulls apart, and gets pushed back together again, moving at a speed that slows, almost freezing, the subjects and processes it enacts.

Collaboration and collectivity are vital to my endeavors as a visual artist. While maintaining a solo practice from 2008-2018, I worked on and off during that time with various collaborators, primarily in duos or trios. In 2014, I began collaborating extensively with artist David Rueter. We have transitioned into a fully collaborative studio partnership as of 2019. More about our collaborative practice can be found here.


1. “Architectonics” meaning the study of a structure, its character. I propose “chemical architectonics” as meaning to draw from or study the interactions of matter through its material properties, energies, and forces. “Chemical architectonics” is simultaneously a study of the actual and the metaphoric, taking from the discipline of chemistry a perspective from which to incompletely, yet productively, feel through and position larger philosophical, political, or cultural phenomena. 2. "Dry rot" is a decay of wood caused by certain species of fungi that breaks down the cellulose structure of the wood, eating away its strength and stiffness. It is commonly used to describe any decay (darkly colored deterioration and cracking) of cured wood in ships and buildings, being reference in the 18th and 19th century in timber heavy European shipyards and naval dry docks.