Ben Cauchi began his career in 2000, continuously exhibiting after graduating from Massey University. His work has been acquired by major galleries in New Zealand and Australia. Recently, he exhibited in the Armory Show in New York and had a solo show, Aether, at the Peter McLeavey Gallery in Wellington. In 2011, Cauchi received the Arts Foundation New Generation Award and, the following year, he was awarded the Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Artists Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, where he now resides.
One of the first series Cauchi exhibited after leaving tertiary study was Building the Empire, which focused on the links between constructed and real histories. This began a rumination on colonial history and the construction of identity in New Zealand racial history. Photos from this series like Loaded Palm and Tiki show race’s centrality to New Zealand identity, and its construction through clothing, jewellery and art. Cauchi frequently uses historic photographic techniques that distinguish him from other contemporary photographers. His use of ambrotype and tintype, techniques that technological developments have rendered obsolete, allow for manipulation and abstraction and reference the Victorian aesthetic. Cauchi also mimics the Victorian obsession with the occult and supernatural, capturing body-less sheets and clothing, or portraits with the faces blank. Cauchi presents his work as collodion on glass, forcing the viewer to fill the vacant space and be reflected into the portrait until they can find the perfect angle to view the photo. Cauchi gives his work a physical quality, grounding it in the physical world at a time when photography is so often digitised.