Ben Hall’s practice is expansive and interdisciplinary, and he collects materials from places all over Detroit. Concerned with politics, identity, social interaction, and the histories held by objects, his works are mash ups with a multitude of references. His large structure, The Drill (2015) brings together a elements as diverse as the transparent backpacks used in the Detroit Public School system (which here act as cactus terrariums); stickers with the face of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man who was beaten to death in 1982 by auto workers in Highland Park, a suburb of Detroit; and references to Goldman Sachs, the Adidas slogan, and Monopoly. As he states, the sculpture represents a microcosm of the artist’s “understanding of humanness in America right now,” an experience that still breaks apart along race and class lines, where individuals must find their own ways to salvage and reconstruct in a culture of violence and control. Hall also collaborated with fellow Detroit-based artist Andrew Mehall on a new sound installation for MOCA Cleveland’s yellow fire escape stair, which utilizes a computer-generated reading of Brazilian philosopher and educator Paulo Freire’s influential 1968 text The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Ben Hall (1977, Detroit) received his BA from Bennington College, Vermont, in 2004 and his MFA from Columbia University, NY in 2012. Selected group exhibitions include Rob Base, Steal Treble, Malraux's Place Brooklyn, NY (2014); Outside Mediation, Green Gallery, Yale University, NJ (2011), and Spatial City: An Architecture of Idealism, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2010). Hall has performed at INSTAL in Glasgow, Scotland; the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; and kunstenentrum BELGIE in Belgium. Hall was the 2014 Dance and Music Fellow at Kresge Arts in Detroit.