Benjamin Armstrong: Holding a Thread - Art Collector

30 September 2010 | “Ben’s work are not representations – merely material provocations,” writes curator Juliana Engberg in the introduction to the new Benjamin Armstrong monograph Holding a Thread.

As if to back up the case, her essay is followed by some 100 pages of illustrations of both Armstrong’s sculpture, drawing and prints from 2002 to 2010.

But Armstrong’s mission is not simply to provoke a gut reaction – though his sculptural pieces in particular are known for engendering visceral responses from viewers.

In a conversation with curator and critic Charlotte Day, which closes the book, he explains his grander ambition. Impressed by the way music can ensnare the mind and “open up a bridge between conscious thought and unconscious immersion” he admits he wants his work to generate a similar experience.

“I think we’re less comfortable approaching visual arts this way,” he says “People often look to reference what they already know and quickly explain something away. But it takes time to open up, to look, draw your own connections and be carried off elsewhere.”

This interview – conducted in March and April 2010 and clearly concisely edited – provides the backbone to
Holding a Thread. Despite its brevity, Day manages to draws out a number of new insights and opportunities for the interpretation of Armstrong’s work.

And this seems to be the appeal of
Holding a Thread. A fraction the size of the usual coffee table tome, this novel-sized hardback may be small but it’s certainly to the point.

Jane O'Sullivan

Benjamin Armstrong: Holding a Thread (140 pages, hardback) is published by Emblem Books in association with Tolarno Galleries.

Above: Benjamin Armstrong: Holding a Thread (Emblem Books, 2010). Photo: Christian Capurro

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