Look Then Below (2019)
Look Then Below Ben Rivers UK16mm > digital22.5 min2019
This netherworld of chambers, carved out over deep time, once held remnants of lost civilisations. Now, they map a future subterranean world occupied by a species evolved from our present, environmentally challenged existence. Look Then Below is the final part of a trilogy developed with author Mark von Schlegell. – Matt’s Gallery
Her tongue is as long as time
Not death can vanquish,
Nor quake can slide her.
I threw nine hundred rocks;
They passed right through her one green eye. – Mark von Schlegell
While Ben Rivers is often understood to be a cinematic chronicler of land and sea, working mostly in the realist tradition, there has always been a thrumming energy throughout his work that points toward the surreal, the uncanny, or even the post-human. Ben Rivers’ third collaboration with writer Mark von Schlegell takes this tendency to its outer reaches. An exploration of the Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset, this film infuses recognizable forms—rock, water, and air—with a hallucinatory neon glow. – Michael Sicinski
This film is available to stream globally.
This film is co-presented with Ecstatic Static.
Image credits: all artworks, stills, and portraits courtesy of the artist © Ben Rivers and Oona Mosna.
about the artist
Ben Rivers (UK) is a filmmaker, artist, and curator born in Somerset, England in 1972. He works in analogue film, drawing, still photography, and installation, with projects ranging in theme from explorations of unknown wilderness territories to candid and intimate portraits of real-life subjects. He received a BA in Fine Art from Falmouth School of Art (1993), initially studying sculpture before moving into photography and Super 8 film. He has completed 30+ films since 2003, which have been widely exhibited at festivals, museums, and galleries internationally, including Tate Modern, Thailand Biennale, Toronto International Film Festival, Hamburg Kunstverein, Harvard Film Archive, Venice Architecture Biennale, Muzeum Sztuki, IndieLisboa, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Tokyo), Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, Flaherty Seminar, CPH:DOX, Courtisane Film Festival, Image Forum, Viennale, Museum of Modern Art, Sarajevo Film Festival, 25FPS Festival, and seven previous editions of Media City Film Festival. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a FIPRESCI International Critics Prize, Venice Film Festival; the Baloise Art Prize, Art Basel (2011); the Robert Gardner Film Award, Film Study Center at Harvard University (2012); the Tiger Award for Short Film, International Film Festival Rotterdam (2011, 2014); the EYE Art & Film Prize, EYE Filmmuseum (2016); Jarman Award Shortlist, Film London (2010, 2012); and numerous other prizes internationally, including an Honourable Mention at Media City Film Festival (2009). He was the recipient of a Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship (2014–2015), and is currently a Media City Film Festival Chrysalis Fellow (2019–2023). His most recent feature, Krabi, 2562 (2019), co-directed with Anocha Suwichakornpong, had its world premiere at Locarno Film Festival. Rivers is co-founder of The Machine that Kills Bad People, a bi-monthly film club at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), organized with María Palacios Cruz, Beatrice Gibson, and Erika Balsom. His work is represented by Kate MacGarry Gallery. He lives and works in London, UK.