alexandra clapham & penelope benton

01.04.2015 - 24.04.2015



As part of an ongoing series investigating our relationship as both partners and collaborative artists, this work considers an underlying internal dialogue, simultaneous competition and submission of ego, a battle of ideas and working rhythms, and a shared interest in spatial intervention.

Human reflexivity works through internal conversations. This type of dialogue draws upon emotions, sensations and images. In this work, a series of individual self-portraits have been made separately, and in succession, each work responds to the previous made portrait of the other. There is an internal dialogue between the artists, and through the work.

Sometimes confused with Duel, meaning an arranged fight between two people, Dual is a notion of paired concepts that mirror one another. In what we interpret as a binary meaning, the idea of this exhibition is a layered one of conflict, collaboration and individuality. A stand-off.

It is said that ‘working separately together (is) a working process that produce(s) undecomposable understandings by collectively engaging in practices of self, and of self-other, reflexivity.’(1) It is believed that through working together separately, ‘we’ become an ‘interpretive us’ and thereby create an understanding of the work that is common to us as a team.

In Duality we explore these ideas, and through the installation of the work, deliberately place, or invite the audience into this internal dialogue between us.

Although presented in video format, this work was developed as an adaptation of the traditional tableau vivant that has been prevalent in our previous works. In the late 80s, art historian Jean-François Chevrier outlined the key characteristic of the contemporary photographic tableau, as summoning a confrontational experience on the part of the spectator, in contrast to the conventional reception or consumption of the popular medium in magazines or the cinema.

(1) Siltanen, Willis and Scobie ‘Separately Together – Working Reflexively as a Team’ Carleton University, Ottawa Canada



Alexandra Clapham and Penelope Benton are collaborative artists working across sculpture, performance and installation. Their practice considers tools employed by architecture and spatial design in ephemeral mediums. The focus of their work is on people and space, spectacle, the domestic, modes of exchange and the (un)limits of the imagination. For the past three years, their performance installation work has drawn on the concept of the tableau vivant, or living picture. They are currently working on a series of new works investigating their relationship as both partners and collaborative artists.

Alexandra has a BFA from UNSW Art & Design. She is currently a casual installer and manages the artists studios at 107 Projects, Redfern NSW. She completed a three-year role as Kudos Gallery Coordinator in 2013, and a two-year Directorship at Firstdraft Gallery in 2012. Penelope is a current MFA candidate at UNSW Art & Design, she has a BA Visual Arts from the University of Newcastle, MArtAdmin from UNSW, Grad Dip in Arts Mgmt UTS. She completed a two-year directorship at Firstdraft in 2008 and was one of the co-founders of The Red Rattler, and artist run warehouse venue in Sydney’s inner west. Alexandra and Penelope were also joint Artistic Directors for Art Month Sydney 2013.


image credit: zan wimberley

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