Art Life , Exhibitions Apr 06, 2015 No Comments

em>From Andrew Frost

In their 2014 performance installation Self Portrait In A Room, Penelope Benton and Alexandra Clapham sat for hours within a double set. Up top Benton sat in a crimson rococo lounge room, bewigged, sipping red wine and reading. Down below Clapham sat in a minimalist lounge room, its walls stripped back to bare wood, a bike hung decorously just so as the artist drank beer and watched Hollywood movies on a big screen TV. As the makers of tableau vivant performance works, Benton and Clapham know how to create a visually stunning piece, paring things back to basics or building them up to baroque excess like an overblown Habsburg wedding cake.


While the duo’s works are genuinely extraordinary visual experiences, what’s equally fascinating is how the settings become symbolic representations of the individual personas of the artists. The three dimensional spaces of their performance contexts transforms into a pictorial space akin to the great metaphorical history paintings of the 18th century where very detail supports a bigger narrative. For Duality, their latest offering at Firstdraft, the duo explore their relationship as partners and collaborative artists as they consider “…an underlying internal dialogue, [a] simultaneous competition and submission of ego, a battle of ideas and working rhythms, and a shared interest in spatial intervention.”

Until April 24
Firstdraft, Woolloomooloo
Pic: Alexandra Clapham and Penelope Benton, Unmonumental, 2-channel HD digital video, duration 2:00:00

Andrew Frost

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