What words do you use to describe your occupation?
I am an artist working in the medium of contemporary dance focusing on performance, research, choreography and teaching (who operates as a sole trader for the ‘dads’ in the room). My occupation is rooted in various ongoing practices, collaboration/conversation, the monotony of everyday life and how that spills into my creativity, and also just asking myself the simple question of ‘Who Am I?’. I see my art work as being a conduit for my personal experiences to filter through, allowing shared information to pass along an echo chamber to then illuminate something old in a new way.

I am consistently seeking to deepen my understanding of body and mind connection through an ongoing inquiry into learning new ‘things’. I love how anything and everything can fold into my occupation and what I do, as long as it is looked at in a personally ‘interesting’ way.

What are you reading/ watching/ listening to?
I would highly recommend Jame’s Nestor’s book Breath to absolutely anyone. It’s an easily digestible book that deals with complex concepts revolving around the body’s respiratory system. It talks about the importance of breath and it explains different techniques that can help you in everyday life. It was the perfect book for lockdown as it aided me in discovering multiple coping mechanisms.

I have also been listening to a podcast called ‘Becoming an active operator of your nervous system’ (Tami Simons interviewing Deb Dona) that talks about polyvagal theory and how to better regulate your own nervous system. I found this particularly interesting during lockdown as it allowed me to capitalise on the scarcity of socialising. It has also fed into my dance practice through optimising functionality and communication with myself and others.

Here is a playlist that I have been putting together titled ‘Gimme Sway Baby’ which is a compilation of songs that literally sound like its name. It’s fun, upbeat, light and awesome to dance to.

Why does your selected image interest you?
I chose to take an image of a bridge on River Birrarung/Yarra River. It shows purple lights with reflective water. The architecture is sharp, it curves, it’s murky, it swirls, it ascends and descends, it has squares and circles and rectangles in multiplying forms, and it goes nowhere but it also enables mobility across water.

I am drawn to this image because of its relationship to colour, design, and depth of field. It manipulates the eye to see something familiar in an unfamiliar way. It looks as though the bridge could be extending for miles, but then in other ways it doesn’t even look like a bridge at all. It’s a fascinating collaboration between something manmade and something made by nature captured by a human on a technological device. I remember being drawn to these lights on this Bridge years before I moved to Hawthorn in 2020, and so I am enjoying having a newfound relationship with them.

During lockdown, I was riding and walking a lot. I live right beside River Birrarung, and can actually see it from some rooms in my house. It was a sanctuary for my personal care and creativity. I loved watching the wildlife going about their daily rituals, as well as listening to the soothing and calming sounds of the continuous flowing water.

I love this image because it captures a very specific moment in my life and in humanity during the global pandemic, as well as capturing my life now as we hopefully move towards a new reality. I ride underneath this bridge nearly every day towards the City, so the image also represents how my life is evolving and moving forward ‘right now’.

Can you tell us a little about how you’re thinking about your work and process at the moment?
I just finished a development with Deanne Butterworth for a new work titled ‘How To Act’, I am in development for my own work titled ‘Dunes Rolling Down Dunes’, and I will be in development with Phillip Adams for his new work titled ‘Triptych’ in December. Collaboration is deeply rooted in my work and artistry, and I am always looking retrospectively at shared information and how I relate to it ‘in the now’.

My choreographic practice explores the human form as a conduit for the external world to be expressed through. Our brain filters through so many thoughts and modalities within a single day; It’s like an express train to Hogwarts that never stops. I attempt to highlight these realities in varying ways; often expressed through ridiculous made-up systems.

There is often something a bit unsettling and comical in my work with a light tongue in cheek sense of humour. I like to have a play on words and actions through repetition and rhythm, highlighting the absurdity in many everyday actions. I am intrigued by layering multiple abstracted ideas on top of one another to form new relationships and to fork new realities.

Benjamin Hurley is a queer and gender fluid performer, dancer, choreographer and teacher who graduated form the VCA in 2016. His practice is deeply rooted in collaboration, and he sifts through and unpacks what these varied and shared experiences mean to him ‘in the now’. His work teeters on the edge of philosophical existentialism and practicality, using his every-day life experiences as a way of forging new fictions within his choice making and choreographies. His most notable and ongoing collaborations include: Phillip Adams BalletLab, Strange Fruit, Deanne Butterworth, Lee Serle, Victoria Chiu, Emma Riches, Isabelle Beauverd and Arabella Frahn-Starkie. He has performed in local and international festivals including a remount of Set and Reset/Reset by Trisha Brown Dance Company as part of the Venice Art Biennale Danza Program, and Glory by Phillip Adams BalletLab as part of Dance Massive. He has presented a body of works for events, fundraisers and music festivals including Dancing Conversations For Anna , ToTo, and Strawberry Kisses and is due to present his first full-length solo show at Temperance Hall UpAndUpAndUpAndUp as part of their curatorial seasons in 2022.

Lead image courtesy of Benjamin Hurley.