Night Gallery is proud to announce One Eye Open, an exhibition of photographs and sculpture by Chris Curreri. This is the artist’s first solo show with the gallery and his debut exhibition in Los Angeles.
Working across mediums, Curreri often explores the roles the body plays as both a boundary and site of exchange between oneself and others—and the outside world in general. The vulnerability of the body is a recurring theme: its capacities to open and close itself off, to be penetrated by external elements and forces. In Curreri’s work, embodiment is a paradoxical state of ongoing porosity and potential connection, raising broader questions about complicated power dynamics and experiences of attraction, submission, punishment, and pleasure.
The show’s central sculpture, titled Christopher, is a human-scale figure resembling the artist—a sculptural self-portrait as an oversized hand puppet. Its form hangs limply on a vertical pole, unable to animate itself, as though awaiting the activation it can only receive through the insertion of another’s hand. Suspended in this latent state, the puppet is also positioned to face the gallery wall, appearing ashamed or chastised in some way. Even its title—markedly more formal than the casual “Chris” generally preferred by the artist—carries the sting of a parent’s verbal scolding. The figure’s absence of liveliness and self-possession, however, somehow implies its opposite: the potential pleasure of being used for someone else’s amusement.
The impaled puppet finds a visual rhyme in an accompanying suite of five photographs showing the frame of a bicycle being consumed by a tree trunk. Rather than penetrating the tree as the pole does the sculpture, here the situation is reversed: the bicycle has been rendered immobile by the arboreal growth surrounding it. Captured with a stark photographic flash, these black-and-white images convey an almost forensic sensibility, freezing individual moments within the tree’s slow process of devouring the metallic frame. The quick, propulsive action of a camera flash is wryly mimicked in a sixth photograph, Bloom, which shows a large, just-popped orb of bubble gum covering the artist’s face.
Green carpet installed throughout the gallery further heightens the sense of artifice and absence introduced by the puppet sculpture; just as Christopher functions as a stand-in for the artist, the green carpet becomes a proxy for grass and the natural world. Through such gestures, Curreri demonstrates that the relationships between supposed opposites—nature and artifice, pleasure and punishment, vulnerability and resilience—are more complex and fluid than they first appear. With one eye open, you are sleeping and not sleeping, seeing and not seeing—the body opened and closed at the same time.
Chris Curreri (b. 1978, Toronto, Canada) received his MFA from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. He has presented solo or two-person shows at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Canada; Contemporary Calgary, Calgary, Canada; Daniel Faria Gallery, Berlin, Germany; The Esker Foundation, Calgary, Canada; Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art, Vancouver, Canada; and University of Toronto Art Center, Toronto, Canada, among others. He has participated in group shows at venues including Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Canada; Institute for Provocation, Beijing, China; Lítost, Prague, Czech Republic; and Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany. Curreri’s work has been written about in publications including Art in America, Canadian Art, Frieze, Momus, and Toronto Star. His work belongs in the collections of Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Toronto, Canada; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, Canada; and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada, among others. Curreri lives and works in Toronto, Canada.