In the introduction to her new book on James Benning’s 2004 film, Ten Skies, critic and scholar Erika Balsom writes: “there are films that present themselves as complex objects but which are in fact quite simple … And then there are films—rarer altogether—that appear simple but harbour tremendous complexity. Such is the deception, the allure, of Ten Skies—a film messier and more profuse than my immediate love for it had allowed.”

Balsom joined me to talk about the book (out now from Fireflies Press) and the many-sided approach she took to writing about one of the most deceptively simple—and beautiful—films in Benning’s fantastically varied body of work. We also discussed where Ten Skies fits into his filmography, the ways in which Benning plays with his own identity, how ten static shots of clouds can be a powerful political statement, and much more.

Balsom will introduce a screening of Ten Skies at Light Industry in Brooklyn on July 1.

Links and Things:

Erika Balsom on James Benning’s PLACE in Artforum
“On Being Bored” by Adam Phillips
“The Storyteller” by Walter Benjamin
Films by James Benning available on DVD from Gartenberg Media
Benning on “Two Cabins” in Artforum