Livestrong: Christopher Chiappa at Kate Werble New York

It’s that New Year/Renewed Slump time of year where everyone’s feeling the post-holiday blues. Despite the grey months that lie ahead, there is a lot to look forward to for those eager gallery goers based in the vibrant hub of New York City.

From the gritty pavements of Vandam Street, Kate Werble Gallery tout de suit heralds its spacial purpose as a neon white cube for contemporary art. The gallery’s latest exhibition see’s Christopher Chiappa’s idiosyncratic installation Livestrong; an unsettling body of work which puzzle’s passersby with what at first might appear as a tragic scene from the Great British Bake Off – Eggs. Sunny-side up. Everywhere.

Eggs 1

Splattered, sagging and slightly seared Chiappa’s hyper-realist sculptures are true to form, bringing the morbidly mundane into a museum-hang scenario – just as many artists have done before him: Marcel Duchamp, Cornelia Parker, Jeff Wall, a list ever growing. The delicacy of each egg is made clear by way of a young, professional gallery assistant singularly informing every visitor of the care one must take whilst visiting the show. 7000 of these eggs ease themselves onto the gallery floor, the gallery walls and even the gallery’s work desk. Chiappa’s fried eggs sit alongside the working gallerists; between their keyboards and monitors, level with their heads atop the reception counter and on the floor beside their designer accessorised feet.

A totally immersive installation, the artist’s multiplying eggs lend the impression of a mass infestation or fungus that can’t be shaked. The draping, jelly-like population of work introduces a juxtaposing divide between the everyday as a friendly, comical statement and as a threatening, permeating source of aggravation. The labour-heavy process of production in Chiappa’s work also comes into play throughout the exhibition. Each work is moulded, cast, sanded and painted through a painstakingly meticulous system. Each egg’s jump from one stage to the next reminds us of the exhibition’s multiplicity, inputting an ‘eye’ which watches every step taken in the gallery.

The scattering of yellow yolks, white flesh and negative grey gallery space either puts viewers at an uncanny discomfort or at a humorous disposition. The fear of leaking a yolk is imminent in the space, despite the reality of the work actually being solid plaster, leading to a dusty, shattered breakage as opposed to a runny spillage.

Livestrong acquaints contemporary art with a burning conflict between the defunct suburbanity of many US cities today and the idea of a righteous and unconquered culture deep-rooted in America’s history. The installation is a playful yet somber look on American Exceptionalism and the novelty of a cracked paradisiacal society existing in the contemporary.

Eggs 2

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