studio artist

Benjamin Forster

Above: Benjamin Forster in her Artspace studio, 2017. Photo: Jessica Maurer

Benjamin is a Jewish name meaning 'first son'. He is his mother’s first, his father’s second and the youngest until recently. Forster is his last name, but not really. It came from family friends, gifted when he was four after a pretty extreme event. Sometimes he considers changing it. It’s difficult though because it seems like proper nouns are a form of currency. This could all be in his head.

Either way this name of his received a Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours from the Australian National University in 2008. It has also exhibited work nationally and international. Some of his personal highlight include Your time is not my time at De Appel Arts Centre in the Netherlands, Primavera 2012 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NEW13 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, My Brain Is In My Inkstand: Drawing as Thinking and Process at the Cranbrook Museum of Art in Michigan, The International Symposium on Computational Aesthetics 09 in Victoria, Canada, )( at Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth and , at Firstdraft, Sydney.

For a while now he has refused to engage with art prizes or any form of awards. Put bluntly, he does not want to tacitly support ideas about art that such things promote, namely the neoliberal ideologies of individual self actualisation and competition. That said, he has done it in the past, winning the non-acquisitive award in the 2010 Fremantle Print Award, and both the Award for Excellence and Celebrating Joondalup Award in the 2012 Joondalup Invitation Art Award. Sadly none of these came with novelty sized checks, medallions or even trophies.

Over the past five years he has jumped around doing residencies at various organisations, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Canberra Contemporary Arts Space, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Fremantle Arts Centre, The Centre for Interdisciplinary Art Perth, Firstdraft, SymbioticA: The Centre for Excellence in Biological Arts, The State Records Office of Western Australia, and most recently with the Helsinki International Artists Programme. He still struggles to define what a residency actually is to his mother. But definitions and their inadequacy is precisely what interests him, so that kind of makes sense.

He once kept track of all the publications, ephemera and junk that included this name of his, but at some point this started to feel silly. That was about the same time he stopped looking for approval in the words of others, and a taste for poetry and writing developed. Since then words have increasingly become more entrancing to him then pretty things for white walls. Definitions again, he guesses.

But seriously and beyond all words, he struggles, and some say thinks too much. At the end of each day he is mostly happy though. And yes this was all written by him, of course, speaking in the third, pretending and performing for you whilst trying to remain honest.