The art of danger and suspense

Ben Woodeson’s art makes people uneasy, anxious even. But as his precariously balanced glass pieces demonstrate, the fear of what might happen next is at the very centre of his work

Slice and Dice, glass and bungee cord, Elevator Gallery, London, 2011

Ben Woodeson’s art makes people uneasy, anxious even. But as his precariously balanced glass pieces demonstrate, the fear of what might happen next is at the very centre of his work…

Woodeson is part of a new group exhibition curated by Crystal Bennes called Pink Does Not Exist. It opens at the Flat C gallery in north London later this month and Woodeson will be showing two pieces which look at how we invest certain objects and situations with our own fears of what they might do, or do to us.

Kick Ass Nail Your Butt to the Wall Glass Sculpture, sheet glass and bungee cord, 2012

Woodeson uses basic materials (glass, bungee cords, the gallery walls or floor), basic scientific principles (gravity, states of equilibrium) and manipulates the tension generated by arranging them in certain ways. His artworks “deliberately straddle a line between stability and instability, action and inaction,” he says.

Screaming ankle slashing tension glass piece (60 second self-destructive sculpture), sheet glass, 2012

His numbered series of Health and Safety Violations, for example, examines an endless list of potential public infringements: swinging a cobblestone or a can of motor oil around in a confined space; playing with electric sockets; leaving massive bits of glass on the floor. (The cobblestone piece is unsurprisingly really dangerous).

One of the pieces he’ll be showing at the Pink Does Not Exist show is Health & Safety Violation #2 – Shocking, a live electric fence, which visitors will have to negotiate in order to see the rest of the show. Unnerving, potentially very annoying, but who knows if it’s really on or off?

Other projects rely on random timers to set them going but these also come full of suspense: will you be present in the gallery when the plastic bag splits, pouring steel ball bearings over the floor? Or when the ball bearing drops from a great height and smashes the sheet of glass?

Even when nothing is going on, there’s the ever-present itch that something is about to happen.

For details of the location of the Flat C Project Space in Stoke Newington, north London email hello@flatclondon.co.uk (the gallery is a private residence). Pink Does Not Exist runs from May 19 until June 2 and features work by Woodeson, Ross Sutherland, Freddy Tuppen, Trevor Kiernander, Catherine Hyland, Henrietta Williams, Nick Love, and Gregory Sale. More of Woodeson’s work is at woodeson.co.uk.

Semi-visible corner piece (head banger), 2mm glass and paper, 2012


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