a man writes on his hand

There Is a Happy Land Further Awaay… Films by Ben Rivers

Wed 16 Mar, 7.30pm

Introduced by Anna Lucas, this programme of films by Ben Rivers – one of the UK’s leading artists and director of feature films including Two Years at Sea – brings together a selection of recent works alongside two short early films.

The screening includes There Is a Happy Land Further Awaay (2015) and Things (2014), alongside The Coming Race (2007) and A World Rattled of Habit (2008).

Through his films, Ben Rivers captures human interactions with remote landscapes and far off places, often referencing cinematic genres and iconography.

Anna Lucas is a London based artist predominantly known for her work in film and video

Image credit: Ben Rivers There Is a Happy Land Further Awaay (2015)


This screening is presented in collaboration with the ICA, as part of the Artist Moving Image Network, funded by Arts Council England.

There Is A Happy Land Further Awaay (2015, 20 mins, S16, col/b+w)

There Is A Happy Land Further Awaay (2015), captures the landscapes of the remote volcanic Republic of Vanuatu archipelago, before they were devastated by Cyclone Pam in early 2015, the footage becoming a ghostly document of an ecosystem now irrevocably altered.

A hesitant female voice reads a poem by Henri Michaux, recounting a life lived in a distant land, full of faltering and mistakes. Island imagery of active volcanoes, underwater WW2 debris, children playing, and wrecked boats transform into intangible digital recollections of the island, made on the opposite side of the world. Images of the eroded land merge with eroding film, a lone figure on a boat drifts at sea.

Things (2014, 21 mins, 16mm, b/w+col)

Things is a travelogue in which the filmmaker leads himself and the viewer through a tour of the four seasons, without ever once setting foot across his doorstep – focusing on unexplored things inside his own four walls. A year-long journey through domestic surroundings that at the same time is a trip into imagination and collective memory – revealed in the collected fragments of images, film, objects and sounds, a bed, books and, observed through a window pane, a squirrel in the garden.

As the seasons change, parallels and associations are made with things previously seen; an intricate web of clues to a life, there for the viewer to unpick.

Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and Gareth Evans.

The Coming Race (2006, 5 min, 16mm, b/w, Ireland)

A film in which thousands of people climb a rocky mountain terrain. The destination and purpose of their ascension remains unclear. A vague, mysterious and unsettling pilgrimage fraught with unknown intentions.

The title ‘The Coming Race’ is after a Victorian novel by E.G.E. Bulwer-Lytton, published 1870, concerning a subterranean super-race who live under a mountain – which at the time was considered by some to be a work of fact.

A World Rattled Of Habit (2008, 10min, 16mm, col/b+w)

A day trip to Suffolk, to see my friend Ben and his dad Oleg…

“So, that’s why my outlook and things very different than normal people, because I was not in a normal propaganda one area only, I was exposed all of a sudden to all opposites, you see and then you get clear mind.” Oleg Meschko



The ICA Artists’ Moving Image Network is a national network of partners, committed to showing an innovative programme of artists’ moving image, with support from Arts Council England. The network launched in February 2014, with initial seed funding from the Foyle Foundation, and features twelve high-profile screening programmes a year. Recent screenings have taken place with a group of emerging and established artists, including Laure Prouvost, Ursula Mayer, Ben Rivers, Duncan Campbell, Mattieu K. Abonnenc, Hito Steyerl, Ryan Trecartin, Steven Claydon, and Keren Cytter.

The Artists’ Moving Image Network links contemporary art organisations with the ICA’s Artists’ Film Club programme, focusing on artist profiles, thematic group and long-form screenings. The Artists’ Moving Image Network currently comprises Peninsula Arts (Plymouth); Exeter Phoenix (Exeter); Grundy Art Gallery (Blackpool); HOME (Manchester); ICIA (Bath); mima (Middlesbrough); MK Gallery (Milton Keynes); Phoenix (Leicester); Spike Island (Bristol); and Tramway (Glasgow).