Holding onto Daddy, 2016. Courtesy the Artist and October Gallery, London.
Benji Reid considers himself a Choreo-Photolist; a term he coined to encapsulate his unique practice where theatricality, choreography, and photography meet in the image. His breathtaking photographs, composed primarily of self-portraits in incredible, anti-gravitational poses with a medley of props, draws the audience into a different dimension. In the hyper-realities he presents the subject as liberated by acts of the artist’s imagination. Whether exploring life as an outsider; issues surrounding mental health, or complexities of fatherhood, Reid makes the audience part of the discussion. Each perfectly poised portrait set against vivid backdrops, and adorned with fantastical objects addresses the world we live in. Everyday objects like a paddle, a sparkler, or a stool transform, and transport the subject into an alternative reality which offers protection and liberation.
The photographer Robert Golden describes in detail how Reid “turns the trash can into a rocket, he will use motors contrived to fly higher and faster than the crowd. His anti-gravitational mysteries, which fail to reflect the “real” world as it seems to be, does what fine art can do in troubled times. He makes us smile – a victory in itself, but more, he provides a greater reality, one worthy of his talent.’’ Whatever the visual references, Reid’s photography elevates to an extraordinary world and exemplifies his mantra that he makes “no image without soul.’’
Untied, 2019. Courtesy the Artist and October Gallery, London.
Moon on a Cloud, 2019. Courtesy the Artist and October Gallery, London.
Going Home, 2019. Courtesy the Artist and October Gallery, London.
Benji Reid began his creative career as a Performer and Creative Director, and over the past 30 years, he has become an award-winning Senior Contributor to the Black Physical Theatre. Merging his performance success with photography, Reid began producing images in 2012. Reid’s first solo show, A Thousand Words, was exhibited at Contact Theatre, Manchester in 2016. His works have been shown in MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), New York, as part of the 2019 exhibition Styles of Resistance: From the Corner to the Catwalk. Also, in 2019 his work was included in the highly acclaimed exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now, curated by Zak Ové at Somerset House.