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Christopher Chiappa: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Kate Werble Gallery
83 Vandam Street, 212-352-9700
March 6 - April 10, 2010
Reception: Friday, March 5, 6 - 8 PM
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Kate Werble Gallery presents Christopher Chiappa’s first solo show in eight years, High Fructose Corn Syrup. In this exhibition, Chiappa employs self-portraiture as a technique to heighten psychological and cultural decay. The title, High Fructose Corn Syrup, is a reference to the artist’s transition from adolescence into adulthood, and his realization of the disappointment of human experience. A daily Coke drinker, he hit puberty just as Coca Cola’s formula switched from using sugar to high fructose corn syrup.

Chiappa uses a simple switch of the ordinary to emphasize an omnipresent disequilibrium in the photographic portrait of the artist in his studio, I Always Knew It Would Come To This. Wearing his usual self-dictated uniform of a white shirt, black pants and Nike Prefontaines, the picture represents the madness of the everyday – his shirt is on his legs and his pants and shoes on his arms and torso with his head popping out of a hole cut in the crotch.

Cloaking the gallery in black plastic, Chiappa aims to push the viewer to re-evaluate the physical gallery: anything can happen within the space. His uniquely American sculpture, Cornball, becomes a handmade icon; a basketball covered in kernels of corn. Cornball layers one recognizable American thing onto another, referencing pop culture as well as Koons’ suspended basketballs.

Unordinary tension builds within Hermit Crab, a video manipulating common childhood pet Hermit Crabs in a way that depicts power and abuse. The artist’s head is cropped out of each frame as he methodically glues each of the twenty-five hermit crab shells together to form a circle. The crabs’ behavior during the gluing evokes human struggle and strategies for coping as a group. Although the crabs were not hurt in any way, an unsettling, uncomfortable feeling prevails.

Christopher Chiappa was born in West Chester, PA in 1970. He has held solo exhibitions at Fredericks Freiser Gallery in New York and participated in various group exhibitions including the Philadelphia ICA, Western Bridge, Moss, Andrea Rosen Gallery, Modern Art, and James Cohan Gallery. He currently lives and works in Long Island City, NY.

An installation of Chiappa’s stools is shown concurrent to this exhibition at the design store Moss at 150 Greene Street New York, NY.
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