Benjamin J. Young is a historian of art and photography.
He is currently a Mellon Teaching Fellow in the Society of Fellows and Lecturer in Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. He received a PhD in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley, and was previously Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at Purchase College, State University of New York. He has previously taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology; Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College, The New School; New York University; the School of Visual Art; and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years, he was an advisor to the Curatorial Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program.
He is turning his dissertation, “Sympathetic Materialism: Allan Sekula’s Photo-Works, 1971–2000” (University of California, Berkeley), into a book. In addition to Sekula, he has written texts on artists such as David Antin, Eleanor Antin, John Baldessari, Harun Farocki, Fred Lonidier, Martha Rosler, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others. A recent essay on LaToya Ruby Frazier’s The Last Cruze, in the exhibition catalogue from the Renaissance Society, situates her photographic survey of workers made during the closure of the GM automobile factory in Lordstown, Ohio, in a broader history of critical documentary and images of workers leaving the factory. Another recent essay, “ ‘Decolonize This Place’ : Realism and Humanism in Photography of Israel-Palestine,” addresses the role of both contemporary art and documentary photography in decolonization struggles, human-rights activism, portraiture after humanism, and emerging discourses of forensic aesthetics.