Born in Sydney, Australia.
Lives and works in Sydney, Australia.
Liam Benson is a performance artist who documents his work through embroidery, photography, video and new media. Benson’s work deconstructs the social perceptions of gender, race, culture, sexuality and identity by cross-referencing art, popular culture and media language.His work serves to celebrate the evolution of these social archetypes and explore the possibilities within the cross influence of socially entrenched identities and cultural and sub-cultural amalgamation.
Liam Benson has been prolifically exhibiting and performing since 2002. He has performed in various significant exhibitions including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2014), Sydney Contemporary Art Fair (2015; 2013), Cutlog New York Art Fair (2013), and as part of the Head On Photo Festival (2012; 2011). Benson also regularly works in collaboration with Naomi Oliver as the performance based duo, The Motel Sisters.
Liam Benson has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Arts Category of the Champions of the West Initiative (2014), Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Award (2013), the Hawkesbury Art Prize (2013), the Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award (2011), and the Contemporary Award category of the Fishers Ghost Art Award (2011). Benson is also a previous artist in residence at Parramatta Artist Studios.
In 2014, Benson was awarded a grant for his project ‘I Adorn Myself’ – a community art project collaborating with female participants investigating the significance of their individual cultural legacy and identity. Benson was also invited to perform at the Museum of Contemporary Art, to celebrate the institution’s 2 millionth visitor. In 2016, Benson was a finalist in the Glenfiddich Artist in Residency Award and the Blake Prize. In 2017 Liam was invited to participate in ‘Young & Free’ at Bega Regional Art Gallery, he was also commissioned to create new work for ‘Unflinching Gaze: photo media & the male figure’ at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.
Benson’s works are held in significant public and private collections including those of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Artbank, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the University of Western Sydney, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and the Gold Coast City Gallery.
“As a queer performance artist who uses photography and video as vehicles for his practice, Liam Benson has been the subject and object of these still and moving images, (re)constructing hybrid identities out of clever juxtapositions of the cultural signifiers of mainstream and marginalised aspects of Western patriarchal culture (cue Benson with Ned Kelly beard wearing a hand embroidered, Klu Klux Clan-style headdress, perhaps a repurposed Mardi Gras costume).
His self-portraits are compelling viewing. While his highly stylised aesthetic is visually striking, it is this very simplicity and clarity that enables a certain complexity to his work. This, in fact, is key to his process. Drawing on the visual language of popular culture, Benson is nevertheless always careful not to rely too heavily on its tricks, resulting in work that, while visually potent, avoids falling into decoration.
But what a formal description of Benson’s work fails to capture is its irreducibly human quality – the way it is animated by the same empathy, integrity and sincerity which distinguishes Benson as a person. It is this palpable sense of genuineness, realised without sentiment, that ultimately provides the work its believability.”
Art Collector, October-December 2015