Video playlists from the most interesting people in the creative industries. We are the Desert Island Discs of internet video.

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Louise Benson

“YouTube’s a very level playing field,” says Elephant magazine’s Deputy Editor Louise Benson. She explains, “You can be watching a work of art, and then see a music video queued up straight after, because that’s how suggestive algorithms work these days.”

Having grown up in London, under the bright lights of one of the world’s cultural capitals, Louise’s work with both Elephant and Scenic Views—an independent magazine she recently co-founded with Lorena Lohr—sees her examine the intersections of art, music, fashion, film, design and real life.

We asked the editor and writer to share some of her favourite online finds:

Mark Leckey, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, 1999 15 Minutes

Louise Benson: I think a friend recommended this to me about ten years ago and it took me a while to actually get round to watching it, because it’s longer than your average YouTube video. Although I’d planned to dip in and out, I ended up watching it all in one go. There’s just something so evocative about it, that spoke to me in terms of nostalgia, even for a time that I didn’t personally live. It’s all focused on old found footage filmed at illegal raves in the 90s, all hand-held with people in the crowd, so you’re super up-close to the people dancing and having the night of their lives as if nothing else matters. He also compiled a range of tunes from that era, which again, I wasn’t there when they were released but it’s sort of tapped in to maybe a wider celebration of what it means to just lose yourself in a night, and to be young of course. I was going out in the 2000s, maybe ten, fifteen years after a lot of this was shot, but some of it really spoke to me. It was very democratic how those clubs operated. Anyone was welcome, in the video you see people of all races, ages and backgrounds.

Victoria Sin and Amrou Al Kadhi, Define Gender, 2017 6 minutes

LB: This was made by Amrou Al Kadhi, in collaboration with them [Victoria Sin], and Amrou was actually at university with me. This was at Cambridge, a very conservative environment, even in the early 2010s. Amrou started the first drag troupe in Cambridge, it was called Denim, and they put on a tonne of amazing shows there and built quite a collective of like-minded people. When we graduated they didn’t just drop off and get a job in banking, they fully embraced it. Amrou has a conservative Iraqi background, and this was a way of breaking away from that while at an elite university. They’re very active in the scene and they’ve just published a new book, an autobiography or sorts. It was Amrou that first introduced me to Victoria who has since really grown a presence in the art world and has been included in some really major shows, such as Kiss My Genders at The Hayward Gallery last year and in the Venice Biennale as part of the performance programme last summer as well. That was the first time I saw them perform live and I was really blown away. They have a unique way with words and bringing together the notions of connection and disconnection, and really bring to the fore a really under-appreciated scene where you can play with how you want to present your gender identity. This was one of the first things that introduced me to that scene, but when I returned to it recently it didn’t feel dated at all.

Robert Palmer, Addicted to Love, 1985 4 minutes

LB: This one I chose as a really light-hearted thing. I used to really love this song if it ever came on at a party when I was a teenager. Me and my best friend at the time were really obsessed with the outfits, they were the perfect costume and they’re really iconic now. I’ve tried to dress up like them before but I don’t think I even came close to the fabulousness they embody. I don’t know how they got their lipstick so shiny, and the dresses are just amazing, and super 1980s. There’s something that just makes me feel very joyful when I return to it, sometimes I just play it in the background when I’m writing. There are a few songs like this, 1980s hits, that remind me of partying after school or just hanging out with friends when we’d listen to music together in that very intense way that many teenagers do, and this was definitely one of them. The mixture of music and fashion really stuck with me.

Lynne Ramsay, Brigitte, 2019 4 Minutes

LB: This came up relatively recently as part of a Prada series they’ve been commissioning, of female directors. Obviously Lynne Ramsay is a huge director in her own right, and I hadn’t really imagined she’d be anything to do with fashion necessarily, so it’s interesting that Prada tapped her for this. I think one of her first films was called Morvern Callar, and it’s really one of my favourite films. Everyone should watch it. More famously, she did We Need to Talk About Kevin and more recently You Were Never Really Here. She often has this sense of menace in her films, even though they’re often exploring very diverse subjects, and I thought it was really refreshing to see the film she’s done with Prada. It’s totally different, but still very distinctive in the attention-to-detail and framing, and also bringing a bit of her own voice (quite literally) into the piece. You really have the sense of Lynne and her presence in it. To see two women at the top of their game working together on this short portrait is something I really enjoy. They’re very big in their own fields and I love this concept of female collaboration, it really speaks to me.

Jean Genet, Un Chant d’Amour, 1950 25 Minutes

LB: This is a film that I just loved when I first came across it during a deep dive on the internet when I was maybe 18. I found it via Uberweb I think, and I’d already been reading some Genet books, who’s a big writer of underground counterculture, particularly the gay scene. To my knowledge, I don’t think he made any other films, he’s just not really known as a filmmaker. But this short that he did, there’s just something very powerful about it. It’s set in a prison and there’s this wall between the two men, so the only way they gain some intimacy is by blowing cigarette smoke through this hole, which is obviously extremely suggestive as well. There’s so many elements, while also being totally chaste. I just love it. It’s from the 1950s too— so early, so outrageous, but there’s nothing to complain about in it. There’s just something so erotic about it and I just think it’s a great piece of cinema.

Follow Louise on Twitter and Instagram at @benson_louise, and check out Scenic Views here

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