Ben Cauchi

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1974

False Light

  • Purchased, 2008
  • Ambrotype
  • 790 x 670mm
  • 2008/027
  • 2007

Ben Cauchi is a contemporary artist who uses the techniques of nineteenth-century photography to make works that resist being placed in time. There’s a feeling of magic in all photography – the capturing of a moment, the way an analogue print develops in the darkroom through exposure to light – but Cauchi is particularly interested in the trickeries of Victorian photographers, who faked apparitions for a gullible audience. Here a blurry object appears to be levitating in front of a sheet. The one-off photograph is an ambrotype, a “mucky and noxious” process invented in the 1850s, where a negative image on glass is made to appear as a positive by placing it against a black background. “It’s the detachment of the image from the present that I enjoy about these processes,” says Cauchi. “The ability to give the work its own point in time so it’s not instantly recognisable as being from the now.”

(Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary, 15 June 2019 – 8 March 2020)