Video–drawing installation, HD video projection on a drawing, loop 60 sec, 52’’/61” inch. 2014

The video-drawing installation Kamil, questions contemporary interpretations of language and codes; the spoken vs written, the word vs. the image. As a nexus point to these riddles is the figure of the sphinx, who according to legend acted as guardian of the city, only allowing passage to those who could reply correctly to the riddles she posed.

Kamil draws its title from a graffiti tag on the Fontaine du Palmier in Place de Chatelet in Paris that Benbenisty photographed before moving to New York. A nexus in her current series of work, the Napoleonic-era fountain featuring a head of a Sphinx facing the four cardinal directions is, for Benbenisty, a fountain of water and language. Benbenisty’s sphinx, speaking in gurgling water, poses riddles in a silent language that does not have written form. Likewise ambiguous in meaning, (translated to “the perfect one” in Arabic in addition to having roots in early Etruscan, Turkish and Greek) the graffiti is in part an individual’s solution to the sphinx’s ongoing riddle, an ambiguous response to the fountain’s silent speech.

Mary L. Coyne


Detail from the video installation.