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 Finger’ depict 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.