Frank Benson’s spring 2008 show at Sadie Coles HQ presents a series of refined presentations of pre-existing abstract forms, each one arrested in motion. Two of the sculptures replicate actual chocolate fountains, highly associative objects of desire and consumerism. Cast in stainless steel to maintain a material harmony with the object that inspired them, the fountains are polished to be almost inconceivably reflective. The apparent invitation to try and disturb their flow is overwhelming. But as with other work by Benson, such as Human Statue that was shown at the Serpentine last year, the pieces remain in the realm of the spectacle: these sculptures are static, abruptly frozen, always resisting the viewer’s intervention.
The nonchalance of these sturdy bases is also found in two furled MDF pieces that are positioned on the floor. These works appear casual, as though they might flop back to their original form, but like the fountains, their construction means that they are in fact the opposite. Made by means of a lengthy process in a furniture-making workshop involving jig construction, lamination and trimming, high levels of production as a means to the distillation of movement are as central to these pieces as to the chocolate fountains. Benson says, ‘I enjoy backtracking through the manufacturing and distribution process which produces the readymade and intervening one or two steps before the object would become available to the public.’ Furthering the idea of manufacture, Benson has specifically made two of each sculpture in order to ‘suggest the possibility of multiple, if not infinite, variations on each form.’
Benson’s photographic works are similarly occupied with the suspension of movement in both the form and function of the object. The image that is part of this exhibition shows a halted multiple CD-changer, presented as an architectural monument, its functionality as bypassed as a Blossfeldt flower. In other photographs, a foam-spraying can deposits its contents into the air, the nodular forms frozen, and a plastic party cup melts to form a plate but stops just short of losing functionality. Through this series of photographs, as with the other works in the show, Benson aspires ‘to force the viewer to form their own conclusions about each of the work’s state of being and acceptability as an art object.’
Frank Benson was born in 1976 in Virginia, USA. He studied at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and Master of Fine Arts, University of California, Los Angeles. His work was recently included in the world-touring Uncertain States of America - American Art in the 3rd Millennium curated by Daniel Birnbaum, Gunnar B. Kvaran and Hans Ulrich Obrist which came to the Serpentine Gallery last year.