Interviewed by: Eliana Blechman
We asked Christopher Chiappa a few questions about the repetition, faith, and Weber Grill inspired stools. Read on for more...
Art-in-Buildings: You use repetitive processes in your work, incorporating repeated figures (over 100 varied stools, some of which are included in The Search for Church (2017), or the 7,000 cast fried eggs in Livestrong (2015)) or repeated actions (carrying around a box large enough to fit your decapitated head in Box (1999-present)). What is the importance of repetition in your practice?
Christopher Chiappa: Repetition for me gets into a spiritual realm – like a rosary or the Jesus prayer from JD Salinger's Franny and Zoey – you do something so much it becomes part of you – like a heartbeat – it shows a real commitment – you can't fake it – it's not artifice – The Box series shows the same commitment but over time – like when you see a couple that's been married for 60 years you don't need to know the details – you believe in the marriage.
CHRISTOPHER CHIAPPA, LIVESTRONG, EXHIBITION VIEW, 2015
KATE WERBLE GALLERY, NEW YORK, NY
AiB: Your presentations of the 'Weber Grill' stools present a disenchanted examination of faith – a previous iteration at Kate Werble Gallery in 2012 was titled Gott is Tot, and your exhibition with Art-in-Buildings is titled The Search for Church. How does religion or spirituality influence this series?
CC: I was raised Catholic and teachings of the church comforted me when I was young – as I grew older my mind started punching holes in the doctrines and I became an atheist - I found that I could get rid of the information that religion presented me but I cannot get rid of the machinery – so I put my faith in artmaking.
AiB: The 'Weber Grill' stool series began as a utilitarian project – how has the original drive behind the project changed as you create increasingly varied objects?
CC: I was going through a dark time – I got divorced – I left my gallery – and I hated my art practice – so I started working on what I thought was furniture for my new post divorce apartment – I needed some chairs and some tables so I decided to make something that was both a chair and a table – and then my normal processes took over and I kept making them until I pushed it into another realm – like a river that's overrun its banks – I never felt the urge to make a painting – in fact the idea of beginning a painting is terrifying to me - so I ended up using the stool form as a template to explore making 3D paintings – I think because the "canvas" was a kind of globe and I could never see all of it at the same time it made me feel comfortable and loose – not self conscious the way a blank canvas would - so I felt free to experiment and explore – and making a vast amount meant that I didn't care if one didn't work out – if they fail I just grind them down and start over.
AiB: What role does humor take in your work?
CC: I would answer that with one of my favorite quotes from Radiohead – "I laugh until my head comes off" – I tend to use humor to highlight existential horror.
AiB: What's next for you?
CC: I am working on a series of objects that starts off where the stools ended – I call them Compositions – like the stools it is a series but it seeks to be much more sculpturally varied – I am exploring the space between painting , sculpture, and furniture making - it's a bit of a whisper down the alley game with each new piece being somewhat related to the one before but evolved or devolved in some way – I've been working on this new series for two years and will begin showing them this year.
Learn more about Christopher Chiappa on his website!