Ben Cain’s practice unfolds across many levels, including sculptures, installations, videos, performances, language based works, publications, interactions and interventions. His multi-faceted approach, which is often brought together in installations, captures the viewer through an encounter with space and objects, their material, size, colour and pattern, and eventually hypnotic repetition. The work also points at the memory or trace of an object – and a first hand, tactile experience of handling it. Highlighting the spectator’s role in the development of subject and object, oscillating in between the physical and the imagined, and enquiring into the connections between seeing and doing, his work opens up a space in between these dualities. Rather than locating himself only within one side of these terms, Cain chooses to claim the ‘and’ that rests in-between. This and is comprised not of oppositions, but a philosophy of relations.
Taking the approach of thinking through making, and bringing something to life, Cain’s work often refers to tools, the use of tools and the act of making. Foregrounding processes of production through objects that allude to their own fabrication and manufacturing, he unpicks how activity, work, production and reflection are deeply intertwined.
In his solo exhibition Cain presents a new body of work, building on his previous research into enacting the potential use of material objects — both in a physical and an interpretative sense.
The exhibition focuses on a very simple instance (or a basic idea of an object), and from there it investigates its infinite possibilities, both practical and abstract. Acting as the ground of interplay between saying and doing, language and movement, the videos in Figure Finger Figure Finger Figure Figure Fingerdepict minute and automatic hand gestures, and a combination of a primary physiological or sensory experience of grip and touch. These ideas also resonate in the installation and placement of poles around the gallery space, functioning both as barrier and an apparatus or instrument for an ambiguous past series of actions, highlighted by colourful fingerprints. An overarching theme in the exhibition is the interchangeable nature of the stick and the hand (arm), body and object, the animate and inanimate. By acknowledging or introducing the presence of people, movement and interaction (and its often political aspect), the work becomes discursive and activated.
Ben Cain (b 1975 Leeds UK) lives and works in London. He holds a BA in Interactive arts (First Class Hons.) from Manchester Metropolitan University, and optioned his MA from MA Jan van Eyck Akademie, Post Graduate Centre for Art, Design and Theory, Maastricht, NL.
He is Lecturer on BA Fine Art (XD Pathway) at Central Saint Martins, and Senior Lecturer teaching on BA (Hons) and MA Fine Art at The Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University.
Recent exhibitions and projects include Open Source, London; RadioCity, audio performance and archive with Tina Gverović, Tate Britain, London (2015); A Stage Before, solo show at Supplement Gallery, London; performance as part of My Vocabulary Did This to Me, South London Gallery, London; performance with Jesse Ash as part of A Stuttering Exhibition, Centre Rhénan d’Art Contemporain, Altkirch CH; The City is Dead, Long Live The City, Dubrovnik HR; 54. Annale: Great Undoing, Porec HR; Turnovers, Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade RS & Tate Modern Project Space, London; Down Time, The Tetley, Leeds UK; Art Sheffield 13, Sheffield UK (all 2014); A House of Leaves, Third Movement, DRAF, London; Sound Spill, 1500 Broadway, New York US; Words to be Spoken Aloud, Turner Contemporary, Margate UK (all 2013); Work in the Dark, Manifesta 9, Genk BE; Busan Biennale, Busan KR (both 2012);The Other Workshop, Herbert Reed Gallery, Canterbury UK (2011), Untitled (in progress), solo exhibition at Supplement Gallery, London; The Same Old Objects Keep Reappearing, Tu SMo, Museum of Modern Art, Pula HR, (both 2010) and The Making of the Means, Wiels, Brussels BE (2009).