Chris Curreri: Beside Myself

17 November 2011- 7 January 2012

Curreri’s large, carefully executed photographs juxtapose human figures and objects in performative engagements. His series Puppet (2008) depicts a man in various poses, contorting his body around a single red vase. This play results in the vase assuming multiple roles, including that of a chamber pot, an object of worship or the stump of an amputee. In this way, the photographs engage with the idea of transformation. The vase, a ready-made object, is not defined by any essential property but by the relationships that the model’s body establishes with it. Here, as in other work, Curreri draws attention to the nature of aesthetic experience, suggesting that active effort is required in altering conventional modes of perception.

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Curreri’s new exhibition, Beside Myself, includes the photographic series, Beside Myself (2011), which consists of black-and-white “portraits” of a bodybuilder. The man’s sculpted physique contrasts starkly with his face, which is completely covered by a cloak of soft dough, a raw material presented in its formless state. The sculpture Proud Flesh (2011) consists of three red glass vases encased in a trio of concrete blocks; only the vases’ mouths remain visible. The photographs and the sculpture set in motion a play between exposure and concealment. In the photographs, the dough conceals the model’s face, closing off its orifices, while the rest of his body stands entirely exposed. His overdeveloped musculature gives the impression not of flesh, but of a strange kind of armour. Meanwhile, in the sculptures, the vases are almost completely hidden by the cement surrounding them. Yet, because of the contrasting material qualities of the dry, grey cement and the red, glistening glass, this concealment paradoxically serves to emphasize, even exaggerate, the openings. The works in Beside Myself present existential depictions and proxies of the human body in its experience of solitude, facing a choice between vulnerable openness and grotesque self-sufficiency.

Chris Curreri lives and works in Toronto. He obtained his MFA in photography at Bard College after completing a BFA in photography at Ryerson University. Curreri’s most recent shows include a solo exhibition, Something, Something at the University of Toronto Art Centre as part of Toronto’s annual Contact Photography festival. Curreri’s work has been included in several international group shows, most recently at Castillo/Corrales (Paris) for the show An Unpardonable Sin, as well as 50 Artists Photograph the Future at Higher Pictures (New York). The recipient of several awards and grants, Curreri was awarded this year‘s “Artist Prize”, an annual grant given by the Friends of the Visual Arts to an emerging artist with exceptional talent. Curreri’s work can be found in the University of Toronto Hart House collection, Queens University Agnes Etherington Collection and recently the Art Gallery of Ontario acquired Currer’s triptych, Model in a Scultpor’s Studio, 2010 at Art Toronto 2011.