Benjamin J. Young is a historian of art and photography.
He received a PhD in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, he was a Mellon Teaching Fellow in the Society of Fellows and Lecturer in Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University; as well as Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at Purchase College, State University of New York. He has 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 also managing editor of Grey Room, a quarterly academic journal of art, architecture, media, and politics published by MIT Press.
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 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.