Artists Martine Syms and Ben Babbitt Ruminate on Cellists and Hypnotists


The African Desperate, Martine Syms’s 2022 feature film debut, rocked the art world with its incisive critique of creative institutions and their impenetrable vocabulary, its psychedelic mumblecore plot, and Diamond Stingily’s brilliantly deadpan delivery as lead character Palace Bryant. These elements were sewn together by a rabid fever dream of a score, hatched by Syms, composer-choreographer Colin Self, and Ben Babbitt. Though they only met a few years ago, Syms and Babbitt—who has worked with Angel Olsen, Weyes Blood, and How to Dress Well, and co-founded the video game Studio Cardboard Computer—have become close collaborators. The Los Angeles-based pair’s latest undertaking is the audio component of Syms’s first Sprüth Magers solo show, “Loser Back Home,” on view through August 26. Here, they dissect their fortuitous meeting, the connection between the human body and technology, and the creative potential of hanging out.

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