Jane Benson: The Splits

Department of Art Fall 2012 Lecture Series

Jane Benson is a sculptor and installation artist whose work explores the transition and transformation of both physical materials and conceptual categories. Benson’s current project extends her ongoing interest in transformation into the realm of collaboration and performance. The Splits begins with the bisecting of various string instruments into two halves, cutting them along their length, creating two separate instruments. The two halves must then be played together to complete a tune and are, thus, for duets (or quartets, octets or dectets) only — pieces that she is creating in collaboration with musicians and composers. The act of splitting at once destroys the integrity of the instrument as an object, and disrupts the conventional process of aesthetic creation that the instrument traditionally permits. Splitting is not merely an act of destruction, however. It also opens graceful passages for imagined evolution: the split instrument becomes a newly creative instrument, permitting the creation not only of new music, but new collaborations.

Benson was born in England and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She has exhibited in national and international venues including PS1 MoMA, New York City; The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Connecticut; Sculpture Center, New York City; Socrates Sculpture Park, New York City; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Solo shows include the Splits at Henry Street Settlement: Abrons Art Center, New York, the Mews, at Thierry Goldberg Projects, New York City; Chronicles of Narcissism, Black & White Gallery, New York City and Underbush; Roebling Hall, New York City. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and residencies including the Fulbright Scholarship, the Pollack-Krasner Grant, and two Lower Manhattan Cultural Council grants and residencies. Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, ARTnews and the New Yorker among others. She received her bachelor of fine arts from Edinburgh College of Art and her master of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.