For over a decade Ben Cauchi has engaged in a photographic practice examining the nature of photography, the passage of time, and the psychological dimensions of viewing. His work is made using the wet-collodion photographic process, resulting in ambrotypes and tintypes; one-off positives on glass or metal. It is a process that dates back to the dawn of photography; an invention of the Enlightenment and a time of science, industry and reason yet, also, a time when spiritualism and mesmerism swept the public. This dichotomy is at the centre of Cauchi’s work; he stages scenarios in the studio and, using the photographic process itself, blurs the lines between what is, and what is not, and so investigates the space between the empirical and the incorporeal.
As writer and critic Gregory O’Brien has said: Cauchi “has not only mastered long outmoded photographic techniques but he has revitalised those traditional ways of making and seeing within the context of contemporary photography and the present day world. Beyond their mystery and occasional sense of menace, his immensely refined images are also repositories for lyricism and, at times, a dark but nonetheless exquisite beauty.”
Cauchi was awarded the Creative New Zealand Visual Arts Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2012) and The Arts Foundation of New Zealand New Generation Award (2011). His work is held in public collections in New Zealand and Australia including the Museum of New Zealand Te Tapa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery, the Chartwell Collection, the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.