The COVID-19 outbreak has imposed restrictions in movement. As part of an ongoing initiative, photographers of Magnum Photo are sharing information and new work made in these strange and difficult times.
For the past decade Ben Cauchi has engaged in a practice examining the nature of photography, the passage of time, and the psychological dimensions of viewing. His work is made using the very earliest photographic techniques; the wet-collodion photographic process, producing ambrotypes and tintypes; one-off positives on glass or metal. It is a process invented at a time of pioneering discovery in the worlds of science, industry and reason, yet also a time when spiritualism and mesmerism held the public imagination. 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 in so doing 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 revitalized 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.”