Benjamin Armstrong: Holding A Thread is the first published work by the independent art, design and visual culture publisher Emblem Books. Benjamin Armstrong (born 1975) lives and works in Melbourne and graduated from the Victorian College of Arts in 1996. The monograph collects some of his most remarkable works during the past ten years along with an essay by Juliana Engberg and a conversation with Charlotte Day.
The book is a small publication, hardbound and quite comfortable to read. The fact that the book is small feels better since the images of Benjamin’s drawings, sculpture and prints are reproduced at a size without the need of stepping back to view it. The conversation is also preferable to read in this intimate format.
The introductory essay by Juliana Engberg gives a proper explanation of Benjamin’s thought and process behind his works, which by themselves do not explain what they are supposed to portray. Instead they seem to rely on the eye and mind of the beholder according to Engberg. The understanding is dependent on what kind of individual is trying to interpret his art because it is very suggestive and open for discussion.
The book displays the past ten years of Armstrong’s work, which are printed in full color on thick uncoated and coated paper, over 140 pages. The gallery section begins with his ink drawings and continues to display his sculptures (including his most recent ones) and lastly some of his prints. It was very easy to make parallel thoughts to what Engberg writes about in her text.
The “Uprising” drawing (on the right page in the photo above) was something that caught my eye because it is one of the few drawings illustrated in the book that uses more black ink than white space. For me it feels like a landscape image and its strong use of contrast reeled me in for a closer look.
“Dust to Gold” (above) made me feel the disturbing thoughts that were mentioned in the introduction. At first glance the work does not create those disturbing thoughts but it is when I think of the sculpture as separate pieces that can be moved and see the close up images, I draw to the conclusion that this disturbs me.
The conversation part of the book features a sort of interview between Benjamin Armstrong and the Associate Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Charlotte Day. I am glad that this conversation was placed well back in the book where you can view his artwork before reading on his thoughts about influences from literature and of what he feels how art and culture is regarded beyond the West.
Benjamin Armstrong: Holding A Thread
Authors: Juliana Engberg, Benjamin Armstrong, Charlotte Day
Publisher: Emblem Books
Specification: Hardbound, 155×220 mm, 140 pages, 100 color images
Price: 44 $ AUS
Text: Jovan Velkoski