As above, so below
October 26 – November 25, 2017
Yossi Milo Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of works by New Zealand artist Ben Cauchi entitled As above, so below. Featured in the artist’s first solo exhibition in the US will be ambrotypes made using the mid-19th-century collodion process. As above, so below, will open on Thursday, October 26 and will be on view through December 9, with an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, October 26 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
A master of collodion wet-plate photography, Cauchi investigates tensions between appearance and subtleties perceived below the surface, shifting away from a black and white reality toward a stranger, greyer space between truth and untruth. Referencing the histories of painting and photography, Cauchi’s ambrotypes depict sheets of rumpled paper or draped veils, transferring their detailed, three-dimensionality onto a thin, flat sheet of glass. Every fold and drape, seemingly suspended beneath the surface of the plate, creates a psychologically-infused, deceptively realistic illusion of texture and depth. His “burnished” ambrotypes are imageless, opalescent works composed only of the materiality of the colloidal process — pure light and silver. The result is a luminous, atmospheric haze appearing to continue well beyond the thin surface of the glass. By translating abstract, contemporary imagery via an historical photographic process once used primarily for portraiture, Cauchi creates objects both of the present and of the past.
The ambrotype process itself similarly reflects the artist's engagement with time. A glass plate is first coated with iodized collodion, dipped in silver nitrate and exposed in the camera for several minutes while still wet. It is then immediately developed and varnished, fusing into a one-of-a-kind, hand-made object the image, the artist’s actions and traces of the chemistry. While photography as a medium is speeding up and dematerializing, Cauchi remains devoted to a slow, labor intensive process that digital technology cannot afford and emphasizes the alchemical wonder and craftsmanship of early photography.
Ben Cauchi’s work is in the permanent collections of Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand; Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand; Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, among others. He was the recipient of an Arts Foundation New Generation Award in 2011 and the Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Artists Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin in 2012. The artist was born in New Zealand in 1974 and currently lives and works in Berlin.