Ben d' Armagnac, Artist in distribution, Belgium / Netherlands, 1940 - 1978
Ben d’Armagnac (Amsterdam, 1940 - 1978) studied painting at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam from 1960 - 1963. In 1965 he moved briefly into the commune of Dutch artist Anton Heyboer in Landsmeer, who was an important influence on his early etchings. From 1967 on he worked together with Gerrit Dekker, e.g. on “Project for a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, dining room, toilet and some non-specified spaces” at Galerie Mickery in 1969 in Amsterdam and abroad before shifting his focus to performance art in the early 1970s.
He was one of the prominent Dutch artists to perform at De Appel (Amsterdam) in its early stages and a 1975 screening of his videotaped performances was among the events marking the centre's transition to incorporating video.
In the course of his career, d'Armagnac gained recognition in The Netherlands as well as abroad, exhibiting in the United States from the late 1970's onwards. For d'Armagnac, video mainly served the purpose of documenting performances that themselves considered the primary work of art, although there are exceptions to this rule. Many of his pieces explore the process of art-making as a sort of torture or imprisonment for the artist. His performances frequently involve 'abject' experiences, especially in relation with bodily substances, such as blood and vomit, employed to explore psychoanalytic concepts of interiority and exteriority as well as issues of physical self-control.
On the 28th of September 1978 d'Armagnac drowned in the Brouwersgracht in Amsterdam near his houseboat, on the day he was supposed to give a performance in Arnhem.