Ben Thorp Brown

Ben Thorp Brown. Cura. Video Still. Courtesy the artist

In the beginning, you were clay. we formed you, we made you
a body. we breathed life into you. we cared for you. we
designed you to care for others. we called you human. you
called us Cura. -
excerpt from the film Cura

The film Cura explores the relationship between empathy and architecture. The protagonist of the film is a tortoise, an incarnation of Cura, the goddess of care. In a monologue, voiced by American vocalist Joan La Barbara, Cura talks about the loss of empathy and warns that this loss will ultimately lead to the demise of the human race. The text mixes the artist’s writing with mythology and passages from the Austrian-American architect Richard Neutra’s main philosophical treatise, Survival by Design (1954). We follow Cura through the various spaces of Richard and Dion Neutra's VDL Research House II at Silver Lake Reservoir in Los Angeles. Neutra is known for his therapeutic interpretation of architecture; in his projects, each environmental element was carefully designed to elicit human sensory and emotional responses. He viewed architecture not only as a way to bring people closer together but also as a way to restore humanity’s balance with nature.

The film is part of The Arcadia Center, an installation operating as an empathy training and rehabilitation center.

2019 – HD Video, stereo, 17:34 min
Courtesy of the artist

Ben Thorp Brown
°1983, New York, Verenigde Staten

Ben Thorp Brown’s work considers the effects of ongoing economic, environmental, and technological change. Working with video, sculpture, and installation, his projects are often developed in dialogue with specific architectural sites and landscapes, which become settings for a fictive world.

Recent solo museum exhibitions of his work were presented at the Jeu de Paume (2019), CAPC Bordeaux (2019), Museo Amparo (2019), and the St. Louis Art Museum (2017). His work has been featured in significant group exhibitions at The Whitney Museum, MoMA PS1, SculptureCenter, and in film festivals such as The New York Film Festival and Rotterdam International Film Festival. His work has been reviewed in numerous media such as The New York Times, Art in America, NPR, ArtForum, Hyperallergic, Art Agenda, Mousse Magazine. He has received awards from Creative Capital, the Graham Foundation, the Shifting Foundation, and was an artist in residence at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. He attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, and is a graduate of Williams College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Cura: Jules the Tortoise / Voice of Cura: Joan La Barbara / Cello: Ethan Philbrick / Music composed by Joan La Barbara and Ethan Philbrick / DP: Tomasz Werner / DP: Jessica Fisher / Grip: Tom Pena / Production Assistant: Ryan Jeffery / Location Manager: Percy Haverson / Tortoise Handler: Steve Mehren / Recording Engineer: Jennifer Ruffalo / Sound Design and Mix: Tim Korn / Colorist: Jeff Sousa
Coproduction Jeu de Paume, Paris, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux & Museo Amparo, Puebla. With the support of Creative Capital. © Ben Thorp Brown