MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2014
Artist StatementIn a world without reality, anything is possible. I am concerned with the state of imagination and humanism - fearful that the technological changes enabling today’s civilization are making difficult older, slower-paced ways of being. A solution: the old, slow tradition of narrative can be resurrected as a form of activism. I’m not making this up. My work creates scenarios and objects that rewrite history to create unique and authentic exchanges between participants. I create sculptures, videos, and performances that foster participation and mischievous play. Using narrative media like theater and comics, I deploy the familiar language of Science Fiction, but never with the intent of fooling anyone. My work is deeply sceptical of tropes, and I utilize their elements for a sense of wonder that never impinges on free will. Whether assuming the role of an astronaut or a khaki-clad explorer, the characters I adopt in performances and videos are meant to tease out assumptions of fantasy and explore the history of world-building. The future has always been determined by both speculative visions and myriad personal histories, and so my work invites audiences to engage with both - achieving a kind of time travel, into memory or suspended disbelief, returning to their world having flexed their imaginations. My invented worlds are presented as fractured mysteries, whose inhabitants are searching, exploring, and analyzing their layered surroundings for meaning. This optimistic pursuit is at the heart of my work and mirrors the reaction I hope to stir in my audience. Genuine storytelling has a place in conceptual art; it can communicate immediately, blending comic wit with political activism. Change must always be preceded by imagination.
Benjamin Andrew is an artist currently based in Baltimore, Maryland. Working with
performance, video, and participatory installations (among many other media) his work
urges the adoption of creative analysis and rigorous humor into everyday life. Taking
cues from Science Fiction and museum practice, his projects develop fiction and
narrative as activist strategies.