Benjamin Murphy is a doctoral candidate in art history focusing on modern and contemporary art from Latin America. He is currently at work on his dissertation, which investigates the emergence of video as an artistic medium during the 1970s among a diverse group of artists and institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay. Coordinating an intersection between the fields of art history and criticism, media theory, and the intellectual history of the social sciences, the project identifies a connecting thread in the ways these heterogeneous actors used the then-novel recording technology to experiment with the methods and conventions of academic disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, and communication studies. These experiments, the dissertation wagers, constitute a key episode in critical debates about how Latin America itself emerged as analytic category constructed through the optics of the social sciences that studied it during the second half of the twentieth century.
Benjamin received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Washington University in St. Louis and his master’s degree in art history from Williams College. Before coming to Princeton, he served as a visiting curator at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City, where he organized an exhibition about the Mexican video and performance artist Pola Weiss in 2014. Benjamin has published essays in the journal ARTMargins and with the Getty Research Institute, and he has presented his research at Harvard University, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Universidad Nacional de las Artes in Buenos Aires, and at the College Art Association’s 2020 Annual Conference, held in Chicago. His research has been supported at Princeton by the Program in Latin American Studies, by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and by a Donald and Mary Hyde Fellowship for Research Abroad in the Humanities. In 2019, he was the recipient of a Fulbright US Student Grant for Study and Research in Brazil.