Art Safari: Ben Lewis Docu on Contemporary Art

Art Safari is an unpretentious and informative series on contemporary art—including ideas from such leading figures as Matthew Barney, Takashi Murakami and Sophie Calle—that everyone can learn from, but retain the option to have his/her opinion, even to laugh at.

The award-winning documentarian and art geek Ben Lewis goes in search of great art—and art that might be great—in eight films (each 30 minutes), which are both analytical adventures and adventurous analyses. In his search he scales skyscrapers, brings sculptures to life, burgles houses, and absorbs copious amounts of French art theory in a determined effort to understand contemporary art.
Each episode of the Art Safari series focuses on the work of a major contemporary artist, including Maurizio Cattelan, Gregor Schneider, Takashi Murakami, Wim Delvoye, Sophie Calle, Santiago Sierra, and Matthew Barney,  while the eighth episode, on “relational art,” examines the work of artists such as Philippe Parreno, Carsten Hoeller, Liam Gillick, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset.
Much of the engaging, often offbeat quality of Art Safari derives from the personality of Ben Lewis, the series’ simultaneous director, sound recordist, on-camera host and sometimes artist’s assistant, making each of the episodes very much like fine-arts home movies—laidback and informal encounters with artists unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Clearly, this kind of film depends on the knowledge, personality and charisma of its central character. As the Sunday Times wrote, “Ben Lewis is the Louis Theroux of the art world, he creates illuminating documentaries without looking like he has any idea what he is doing.” While the ART SAFARI host has been characterized by The Evening Standard as a “likable art geek,” “The Prospect” noted that, “Lewis is cleverer than he at first appears. We see him chatting in fluent Italian, German and French. His knowledge is solid and his ability to place the weirder inventions of difficult artists in the context of recent art history is admirable.”