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“Embodying classical aesthetic, music and culture, Benjamin Skepper is a musician with an extraordinary sense of the contemporary” (Rolling Stone Italy)
Worldly, experimental and blurring the lines between visual art, music and other art forms, Benjamin Skepper’s performance at MOFO embodied the festival and the MONA brand (Artshub Australia)
A Melbourne born classically trained musician, Benjamin Skepper creates at the confluence of art, science, technology, fashion, modern classical and the avant-garde. A respected performance artist, composer, art director, published author and scientific researcher (most recently in Leonardo Journal, MIT 2020), he is a cultural advocate with deep interests in Russia and Japan. His talent and curiosity have taken him across musical boundaries and artistic borders for which he has garnered international acclaim.
His experimental, innovative and multidisciplinary artworks seek to expand our perception, and collapse the borders that divide us. His studio practice is research and collaboratively driven, focusing on the application of new technology and scientific innovation within the context of contemporary sound and visual arts. Benjamin actively explores the human body as a musical instrument, issues around human identity and human rights, and the relationship of sound and medicine (neuroscience and genetics) in the context of human healing.
A child prodigy, commencing piano at two years of age, Benjamin began touring at seven as a solo pianist, boy soprano, ballet dancer and the youngest self-taught harpsichordist in Australia. He embarked on his first international solo piano tour at 10 years old, performing a Mozart concerto with full orchestra in New Zealand, as a Suzuki Music Youth Ambassador. His passion continued with studies in the violoncello, touring and performing with symphonic orchestras and chamber ensembles Australia wide. His deep experience with classical music continues to inform his contemporary practice as an accomplished improviser and proponent of the electro-acoustic, modern classical and noise genres. He is a leader in avant-garde approaches to performance, musical notation, recording and electronics, sonification, and collaborates broadly across disciplines and cultures.
Alongside his two decade long professional classical career, Benjamin also completed an Arts/Law degree with Honours at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Public and International Law, specialising in Children’s Rights, under the guidance of Gillian Triggs and John Tobin. A qualified solicitor, he remains committed to human rights and children’s policy, volunteering with NGOs and charities such as Médecins Sans Frontières and The Red Cross.
In 2009 he founded his creative enterprise “contrapuntal” in Tokyo which operates globally. Over the past decade, he has established an international practice in site-specific multi artform installations, encompassing large scale commissions and live performances, art direction and ideation for major brands, sound design and composition, and creative production. Clients range from museums, festivals, commercial and luxury brands, fashion, TV, theatre, film and government agencies.
Under contrapuntal he also launched his independent music label with five self-produced solo releases, licensing original music for film, commercials and online digital content, collaborating with major record labels, including Colombia Music and Ninja Tunes. His foray into orchestral electronic landed him a music video exclusive with VICE (THUMP) Australia. His sixth release, recorded live at the Moscow Conservatory, is due early 2023.
In the field of contemporary art, he has presented performance art works and sound installations, most recently at the National Gallery of Australia with Nakaya Fujiko (Canberra), “Astana Art Show” the inaugural contemporary Art Bienial (Kazakhstan), Museo del Novecento (Milan), “Culture Warriors”, Australia’s first Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), as artist in residence at “No Mans Land” (French Embassy, Tokyo), “Sight & Sound: Music & Abstraction in Australian Art” (Arts Centre, Melbourne), “Rooms” International Fashion and Design Trade Fair (Tokyo), White Trade Fair (Milan), “Art After Dark” for the National Gallery of Victoria’s exhibition “Napoleon: Revolution to Empire” (Melbourne), and as a headline performer at MONA FOMA 2013 (Tasmania), dubbed a festival highlight by curator Brian Ritchie. By special invitation from The Hermitage Foundation, Benjamin performed at the opening of “Manifesta 10”, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art (Saint Petersburg). He has also participated in a sound-art residency at Klanghaus (Austria) with acclaimed experimental violinist Mia Zabelka, and an underground exhibition in Shinjuku, Tokyo with sound artist Yoko Ono.
In the emerging field of Art + Science (STEAM), Benjamin’s sound work was commissioned for transmission into Outer Space and the ISS from MONA (2015). In 2016 he was appointed Australia’s first Research Fellow of the Moscow State Conservatory, in the ground breaking field of music and genetics, in collaboration with the Russian Academy of Sciences. As international Ambassador to this revolutionary new school of music, he presented a world premiere of genetic music on electric cello in Vienna at The Symmetry Festival (2016). This led to a commisison as the first resident artist at Science Gallery Melbourne, to create a new live media art performance for the inaugural exhibition opening “Blood” (2017). Building on this work, he premiered “Praeludium & Fuga” (2019) at the Moscow State Conservatory, to a sell out audience. The first ever original electro acoustic, audio visual work presented at the esteemed classical music institution, Skepper has set a precedent in the classical music world proving that hybrid and experimental forms of music, sound and media art and live performance art can viably coexist.
As a cultural advocate and creative consultant, Benjamin has worked with local and federal government bodies to research and identiy international collaborations and exchange opporunities as Australia’s Cultural Ambassador to Russia, harnessing the powerful role art and culture play in driving social change and shifting mindsets.
As a researcher and writer, Benjamin published his first book “Artist Thinking”, with Japan’s premiere publishing house President Inc, to expand on his creative ideas in the sphere of art, innovation and sustainable futures. On 11 March 2021, he performed “For Our Freedom” to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Tohoku, Japan. This was subsequently featured by Forbes and NHK National TV Japan.
Artist features include Rolling Stone Italy + Russia, AMICA Italy, GQ Japan, L’Officiel Kazakhstan, and Good Weekend Magazine Australia. Benjamin also holds multiple Brand Ambassadorships, including Yamaha Music, Oyaide and Ableton.