Ben Long’s ‘Scaffolding Sculptures’ is an evolving series of three-dimensional constructions made from conventional scaffolding components. By using these builder’s materials out of their everyday context, Long creates meanings and symbols an audience would not normally expect.
For his forthcoming solo exhibition at Man&Eve, Long has constructed the words ‘ART’ and ‘WORK’ from scaffolding, on a scale that challenges the architecture of the gallery. The sculpture invites multiple readings. For Long, the two words share equal value, their meanings being partly interchangeable. The word ‘ART’ embodies the creative thought-process inherent in the conception of a piece as well as the practical skill required to physically make it. Likewise, the word ‘WORK’ describes not only the intellectual endeavour in pursuit of a final idea, but also the effort involved in an artwork’s construction.
By separating the word ‘artwork’ into its two component words, Long leads us to contemplate the key ingredients required in the making of any work of art; the initial spark and development of an idea, and the productive course of activity that makes an idea into an artifact.
Long’s approach asserts the value of the disciplined working practice of the artist as well as the playful conception of ideas. He draws comparisons between the work of a creative occupation and the hard graft of manual employment and in doing so he democratises the process of creative production.
He goes so far as to invite his audience to make their own ‘Art Work Scaffolding Sculpture’ by providing ‘Ikea-like’ instructions for self-assembly. By following this step-by-step manual, the individual acquires the skill and knowledge necessary to create their very own do-it-yourself copy of Long’s artwork, while gaining a thorough understanding of his particular working process.