Ben Leslie’s The Prop Shop for Sculpcha Vulcha

Sometimes when I walk through a white room full of objects, I feel a weird buzzing feeling in my brain, and my mouth becomes a bit moister, as though I want to lick all the colours to check they look as good as they taste. Maybe – depending on the combination of shapes and colours and where things are placed in the room – I feel happy or sad, or happy and sad, or some other mix of feelings and sensations. Maybe I sense that something has passed between the objects and I – some kind of energy exchange or something. Despite the solidity of the things, when I try to describe the experience to others later, my garbled description of the materials and shapes and arrangements falls a bit flat, because I guess my feelings have to do with something less solid than the objects themselves.

Whenever I talk to Ben about making art, we always talk about stuff like this – colours and feelings and patterns and weird rocks we found on the side of the road. I think we’re both still obsessed with the idea that – as Germany’s favourite techno child Nicolas Jaar put it – “texture can have a, umm, can have like an emotional resonance?”
. That an iridescent piece of salmon coloured insulation foam can make you feel something, something that has nothing to do with an effective and durable solution to air leakage problems.

Having too many abstract feelings about insulation foam is probably what drags someone into long nights of google-image-searching Brancusi’s studio and long days of schlepping home a backpack full of Phaidon books. After a little while ping-ponging between google-image-searches and the art school library, you might start to find yourself turned on by some predictable triggers. Columns, stacks, monuments, long thin trestle tables of ornaments. For lack of real physical encounters, you surf Tumblr or ArtStack, looking for quick photogenic sculpture hits. Sculpcha Vulcha is a film about cheap art thrills. Because art, like everything else now, is ingested hard and fast, for quick kicks. Films take too long to watch, and this is an exhibition, not a film, so Sculpcha Vulcha doesn’t exist. This is The Prop Shop for “Sculpcha Vulcha” – the old storeroom of props from the kind of film Tarantino might make if he were into modernist sculpture instead of spaghetti westerns and extreme violence.

The Prop Shop is a room full of objects that have supposedly already operated their primary function elsewhere, in a B-grade history-of-sculpture film. If the intended purpose of the objects really lies in their role as props in a non-existent and frankly absurd film, then it’s is a bit difficult to read. I’d wager Ben is giving a sly finger to anyone who reckons objects should be read as purveyors of meaning and intention, carefully crafted riddles full of references and associations that the cleverest viewer can decode.

The important thing to remember is that an iridescent piece of salmon coloured insulation foam can make you feel something.

- Chloê Langford, 2013.