Persona January, 31st 2024 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 451 - Simone Bennett

simone bennett – 1

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 451 – Simone Bennett
Simone Bennett is a multi-media artist. She tackles major themes through personal stories. It results in a combination of short films, film installations and staged photography with an important role for sound.
Since 2017, fire has played a major role in her work. I recently saw the film installation The Firemans Choir at Het Archief in Rotterdam. In the short film I saw the singers of the Dordrecht Fire Department Choir portraying a fire while singing using the elements heat, fuel and oxygen.

simone bennett – 2

Devastating fire in Portugal
The reason was a major fire in Portugal, she says, when I speak to her in Filmhuis The Hague. Forest fires in Portugal’s Pedrógão Grande, Leiria region, killed 66 people and injured 250 others in June 2017. In five days, an estimated 24,000 hectares of land were burned and more than 500 houses were partially or completely destroyed. Dozens of victims died when they were trapped in their cars on the N236 – the ‘road of death’.

simone bennett – 3

Simone’s husband is from that region. Simone went to Portugal with him and daughter in 2017; a week after returning to the Netherlands, all the forests they had just visited had been burned. Simone’s husband was in shock. ‘I have lost my childhood memory. It wiped out the forests of my youth.’ They went back and started filming. She toured the area, which looked desolate, spoke to the population, firefighters and scientists in the field of forest fires, including Cathelijne Stoof (WUR Wageningen) and put together a cast, including an actor from a well-known Portuguese soap opera. The local population also participated in the film. In September 2020, the film Gentle Wildfire premiered in Museum Hilversum.
The film has been shown in 24 places around the world and has won several awards. It played the longest in South America, where the theme was recognised.

simone bennett – 4

She also wanted to pay attention to what was not lost, she says. “The community with attention to the individual. How people connect with their environment. I like the combination of documentary elements and fiction, and want to bring the two together. Film is the heart of my work, and next to it, staged photography. That friction is interesting. The third element is sound. In the fire choir film, the soundtrack was a composition by Peter Vandrie, a composition based on the elements Heat, Fuel and Oxygen.”
“In my photography I can tell entire stories with one image, film still. There must be room for this in an exhibition, where the viewer can fill in the story themselves. Sometimes there are several photos that tell the story. “
She is now working on a film about fire and the city of Leeds, in the context of Leeds European Capital of Culture 2023. “A barbecue accident is often the cause of fires there. It is important for me in my work to also talk about the positive sides of fire as something natural with which we live in balance.”

simone bennett – 5

Her name sounds English, does she have English roots?
That appears to be the case. “My father is English, my mother Dutch. They met on the ferry from Hoek van Holland to Harwich.” She is wearing a musician’s jacket that she bought at the market in Leeds.
She comes from an artistic family. Her father was a draftsman. “He drew models, dancers from various dance companies, including The National Ballet and Scapino, and also trees. My mother works with glass and collage art. My brother – Daniel Bennett – is also in the arts. We work next to each other in my father’s old studio in Baarn.”

simone bennett – 6

Does she have a key work?
She has. In addition to the two already mentioned, these are:
• Anyone can enter anywhere at any time (Iedereen kan altijd overal naar binnen). Her final examination work for the Rietveld Academy from 2002. A film in collaboration with the crime reporter Peter R. de Vries. “Be on your guard, is the message. Anyone can be a potential perpetrator. It is inspired by Hitchcock’s films. I discovered that the combination of documentary elements and staged was my thing.”
• The Truth Machine, 2007. A film about a car accident based on an ancient Persian fable. The Truth Machine won the award for best experimental short film at the Concorto Film Festival in Italy. “It was my first step in experimental film installation making. Sound by Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten.”

simone bennett – 7

• Motor, 2012, An experimental film about seven residents of an apartment building who all live separately, but are connected in a strange way. They share fear and gossip. The film has a soundtrack of Simon Lenski’s violin and cello. The violin was designed especially for this film by Yuri Landman. “Filmed in Alexandrium, Rotterdam with Rotterdam crew. How panic and fear ignites a small community like wildfire.”
• Wealth (Overvloed), 2017, is a film run about greed. The hunger for individual prosperity over the welfare and well-being of society. The film represents the destructive cycle of accumulation and destruction of the abundance of wealth. A film installation with a crying chandelier, with a soundtrack by Sjam Sjamsoedin.

simone bennett – 8

Rietveld Academy
Simone has been working with the same camera person/woman, Lonneke Worm, since she was 13. In addition to her work as a camera person, Lonneke is also affiliated with the Film Academy.
Financing is an important component of getting a project off the ground. “I spend three to five years working on finance for each film. Then it’s nice to do photography in the meantime. I also make lightboxes, photos in a light box. I work with a film producer, Interakt, they work a lot with artists.”
Simone is also a teacher at the Rietveld Academy. She is head of the VAV – moving image department, together with Anja Masling.

simone bennett – 10

How long has she been an artist?
“Since 2002, when I graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. But there is also something to be said for being born an artist, and that also applies to my brother.”
What is her experience of art life?
“I’m always busy with work: reading, watching films, making things. One thing leads to another. It is important that we (me and my brother) have a studio in Baarn. I combine it with a day and a half at the Rietveld Academy and raising my daughter. You have to find a balance between different things. The motivation always remains high.”

simone bennett – 13

Finally, what is her philosophy?
“Although I work in a structured way, I let chance play a role. Collaboration with people is very valuable to me. And not to forget – and here I quote Ansel Adams: ‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it.'”
1) Overview exhibition, Rick Mandoeng photography, 2) Photography – Traces, 3) Photo The Guardians Apprentice, 4) Film – Gentle Wildfire, 5) Film – Firemans Choir, 6) Photography – Lets get lost, 7) Photography – The Chairman, 8) Photography – After the storm, 9) Overview exhibition, Rick Mandoeng photography, 10) Portrait Simone Bennett, Rick Mandoeng Photography 

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest article are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the Marbella Marbella website. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with the author.


What did you think of this article?

The latest ideas for you to check out

The latest hits for you to check out