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Years of Saturdays
Benj Gerdes

Since the late 1960s, a group of activists has met weekly to protest US-led military invasions in front of a small-town post office in central Pennsylvania (this is one of many such sites). At the height of anti-war mobilizations, and later during the spread of Occupy movements, one reportedly witnessed a crowd. Now, this has dwindled to a core of elderly activists, no one younger than seventy and one in his nineties. The artist returns to the scene of his original political upbringing as a 13 year-old protesting the first Gulf War (1991). Upon telling one of them he’d been there before as a child, she said, “Funny, you don’t look old enough for Vietnam.” Instead of staying behind the camera, making the portrait he’d intended to shoot, the filmmaker is forced to confront the awkwardness of filming a four-person protest, and becomes, briefly, a participant. Via voiceover interview, his ambivalence around these gestures is explained to mirror, in some ways, a renewed respect for the ongoing commitment of their protest after a long period of disregarding such acts as hallmarks of mainstream left-liberal politics in the US.

Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9)
Prod. format Generic HD-video
Duration 00:15:00
Color Color
Year 2018
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About the artist

Benj Gerdes

Benjamin Gerdes is an artist, writer, and organizer working in video, film, and related public formats, individually as well as collaboratively. He is interested in intersections of radical politics, knowledge production, and popular imagination. His work focuses on the affective and social consequences of economic and state regimes, investigating methods for art and cultural projects to contribute to social change. Gerdes’s projects emerge via multiple articulations from long-term research processes conducted in dialogue with activists, trade unionists, architects, urbanists, geographers, and archival researchers. Prior to coming to the Institute for Futures Studies, he was based at the Royal Institute in Stockholm, where he conducted research and led a professor group in fine art and moving image for 5 years.