In the studio: Benjamin Aitken

Benjamin Aitken

8 May 2020

Fill us in on what you are working on at the moment.. either before or during isolation
 
The main projects I am currently working on are two solo exhibitions. One for THIS IS NO FANTASY and one for a show in Vienna, next year. Amongst this there are some prizes, group shows and ideas I want to play around with, but these two shows are currently my main focus during isolation. Some of my works are venturing into photo and video, and being known as a painter this is new territory for me. I am also curating a show alongside Sebastian Goldspink of ALASKA Projects and Faraday Boydell, due to open at OLSEN this year, which is now postponed til 2021.
 
Being an artist is usually a solitary pursuit – do you have any tips for people who are new to WFH?
 
I find staying engaged motivates me. It might be forcing myself to read a bit, flip through some magazines, watch films and listen to music. I think allowing art into my daily routine helps inform my practice. Social media is also important, but it can also be distracting. I am most in the mood to create whilst having a drink and listening to music. And it would be remiss not to mention you don’t always have to be motivated. A day of research or note taking is relaxing, or even a day off. We have our whole lives to make, it would be a shame not to have a sleep in.
 
What are you watching, listening to, looking at …
 
Isolation has got me re-watching all six seasons of the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-air’. Reading PRESENT TENSE by Doug Hall, a book about Anna Schwartz’ 35 years in contemporary Australian art. Some of the information and images in that book are motivating alone. Listening to quite a few podcasts about the art market (and true crime of course). A nice balance of research and filler.
 
No one has a clue how long this will go for or what the world may be like after but… if there was one good thing, be it personal or in general, that you hope to come out of this, what would it be?

I think the general public realising how important art is, would be a good outcome. History and culture – music, painting, film and theatre are such important tools for bringing people together and appreciating humanity. It would be nice to see the people who don’t regularly engage, who probably are now due to isolation, continue to support these sectors once the pandemic is over.

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