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Contemporary art

Western art


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The final day



Ben Cauchi

New Zealand

1974 -


Ben Cauchi was born in Auckland in 1974; he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Photography from Massey University, Wellington, in 2000.

Cauchi uses traditional (‘anachronistic’, according to Aaron Lister Lister in ‘An offer of questionable intent: photographs by Ben Cauchi’, from exh. cat. ‘Ben Cauchi: smoke and mirrors’ 2005) printing methods, such as ambrotypes and tintypes, to create darkly ethereal, contemplative images, which pose questions about mortality, the subconscious and, indeed, pictorial representation itself.

Cauchi’s photographs seem to penetrate deeply into some subliminal realm of memory; they feel at once oddly familiar, like we’ve seen them before, and uncannily distant, dislodged from reality – haunting reminders that the past was also a present, that the present is becoming past.

This dichotomy runs parallel to that of photography itself. This is especially evident in Cauchi’s self-portrait, ‘The final day’ 2006. It shows the artist staring blankly out of what could be a generic nineteenth-century studio portrait, whilst simultaneously forcing us to acknowledge the contemporaneity of the image through the very fact it is by and of the artist, and hence no less ‘contemporary’ than any 21st -century, digitally produced self-portrait.

Ben Cauchi has exhibited extensively in Australia and New Zealand as well as in London. His work is in the public collections of Australia and New Zealand among others.




Media category


Materials used



23.0 x 19.0 cm sight; 54.0 x 45.5 x 4.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated c.verso frame, black ink “.../ 2006/ .../ Ben Cauchi”.


Gift of Henry Ergas 2009. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

Accession number


Artist information

Ben Cauchi

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Laura Pia, Look, 'Gifts from the Ergas collection', pg.10-13, Sydney, Apr 2010, 11 (colour illus.).