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Grand Opera

by James Benning
U.S.A. / 90:00 / 1978
sound / colour

“Grand Opera” marks a stock-taking of Benning’s work and his life, presenting a personal and artistic autobiography woven together with a series of events dealing with the historical development of the number pi, Benning’s travels, and homages to Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton, George Landow (Owen Land), and Yvonne Rainer.

“Before making films on a full-time basis several years ago, [Benning] taught math to high school drop-outs in an alternative school. Most of those enrolled were alcoholics, so he brought in empty liquor, beer, and wine bottles. Together they worked out comparative pricing based on the percentage of alcohol versus the volume of each. Factors like the availability and the physical effects of each were added. After extensive research they conclusively, logically, and mathematically proved that a brand of vodka was the most economical and effective purchase. In a different way, ‘Grand Opera’ echoes this wry sense of irony.” - John Greyson, Fuse Magazine 1980

Exhibition Formats

  • 16mm


  • autobiography


  • experimental
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