BEN ALTMAN

STATEMENT

I am fascinated by the turning points of modern history and how they have formed our world. Many such events were violent on massive scales; I mourn, memorialize, respond to, and reclaim these intractable collective traumas by recording performances at my home and by visiting sites of atrocity. I explore the roles of perpetrator, victim, observer, and bystander and I photograph tourists, signage, architecture, and landscaping.

Although my primary media for recording and observation are photography and video, my practice draws ideas and materials from Land Art, studio art, sound art, sculpture, assemblage, manual labor, and sailboat rigging. The presentation of my projects varies from complex installations, sometimes with interactive components, to traditional photography exhibits. I also make photography-and-interview portraits of particular communities.

I am a British-born naturalized US citizen. My mother was Anglican and my father Jewish. Questions of home and belonging, both for myself and for others, are woven into my work. Although only collateral members of my father’s family were caught up in the Holocaust, nevertheless that connection underlies my concerns, together with my unsettled origins, upbringing in postwar England, and subsequent emigration. I continue to challenge my understandings of these themes and to develop my practice as a tool for investigation, engagement, and personal and public ownership of historic violence.

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Statements for individual projects are found on their respective pages.