The ostensible battle in Ben Pederson’s new video appears to be a pretext for dealing with ideas of war, peace, chemical mind expansion and the visual language of dissent. The psychedelic style of the video is also one of its subjects. Like many of Pederson’s other videos it is ironic without being cynical, and funny without being a joke. “Battle” represents an exciting current of thought among artists who take the counter-cultural movements and icons of the past seriously, but are not so interested in nostalgia. Pederson’s work has a place at the very end of a long Romantic tradition. He has a special gift for giving ubiquitous pop culture subjects unexpected contexts and disquieting facets. It all ends up going in the bong.
Pederson and I used to laugh a lot about this place called Lidz. Lidz is a store in some shopping malls that sells hats– lids, get it? But with a “z.” Lidz! Ben dedicated the video to me, which really flatters me to no end.