Born 1974, USA
Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico
Chris Sharp is a writer and independent curator currently based in Mexico City. Exhibitions and projects include Stay in Love, a two part exhibition, Lisa Cooley gallery and Laurel Gitlen gallery, New York (2014); Notes on Neo-Camp, Office Baroque gallery, Antwerp (2013), which traveled to Studio Voltaire, London (2013); Seeing is Believing, a solo exhibition of Jochen Lempert, Norma Mangione gallery, Turin (2013); Mexico City Blues, Shanaynay, Paris (2012); Smeared with the Gold of the Opulent Sun, Nomas Foundation, Rome (2012); Bouvard and Pécuchet’s Compendious Quest for Beauty, co-curated with Simone Menegoi, David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2012); Antic Measures, Galerija Gregor Podnar, Berlin (2011); Under Destruction, co-curated with Gianni Jetzer, Museum Tinguely, Basel (2010), which traveled to The Swiss Institute, New York (2011).
He is currently preparing the 12th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition in Biel/Bienne (2014), which he will co-curate with Gianni Jetzer. Sharp also co-directs, with the artist Martin Soto Climent, the Mexico City project space, Lulu.
He is editor-at-large of Kaleidoscope magazine, a contributing editor of Art Review, and his writing has appeared in many magazines and online publications including Artforum, Fillip, Afterall, Mousse, Metropolis M, Spike, Camera Austria, artpress, and Art-Agenda. He has contributed critical texts to publications on the work of artists such as Jean-Luc Moulène, Simon Dybbroe Møller, Dane Mitchell, Roman Ondák, Michael Dean, Ian Kiaer, Nina Canell, Nina Beier and Owen Land among others for such institutions as Moderna Museet, Malmö, Hamburg Kunstverein, Kunsthalle Bern, The Sculpture Center, New York, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, MACRO, Rome, and La Biennale de Rennes.
Project: The Registry of Promise
Chris Sharp (1974, USA) è uno scrittore e un curatore indipendente, attualmente di base a Città del Messico. Sta preparando come co-curatore la 12a edizione della Swiss Sculpture Exhibition a Bienne (2014) con Gianni Jetzer e dirige insieme all’artista Martin Soto Climent il project space Lulu a Città del Messico. Fa parte della redazione della rivista Kaleidoscope e collabora regolarmente con Art Review; i suoi articoli sono pubblicati inoltre su siti internet e numerose riviste come Artforum, Fillip, Afterall, Mousse, Metropolis M, Spike, Camera Austria, artpress e Art-Agenda. Ha realizzato saggi critici per pubblicazioni e cataloghi sul lavoro di molti artisti e nell’ambito di progetti promossi da istituzioni come il Moderna Museet Malmö, La Kunstverein di Amburgo, La Kunsthalle di Berna, The Sculpture Center a New York, il Nouveau Musée National a Monaco, il MACRO a Roma e La Biennale de Rennes, Francia.
Chris Sharp (1974, USA) est un critique et commissaire indépendant, actuellement basé à Mexico. Il prépare actuellement, en tant que co-commissaire, la 12ème édition de l’exposition suisse de sculpture de Bienne (2014) avec Gianni Jetzer, et dirige depuis avril 2013 l’espace d’exposition Lulu à Mexico, avec l’artiste Martin Soto Climent. Il fait partie de la rédaction de Kaleidoscope et collabore régulièrement avec Art Review. Ses articles sont également publiés sur de nombreux médias tels Artforum, Fillip, Afterall, Mousse, Metropolis M, Spike, Camera Austria, artpress et Art-Agenda. Il a contribué comme auteur à des publications consacrées entre autres à Simon Dybbroe Møller, Dane Mitchell, Roman Ondák, Michael Dean, Christian Andersson, Ian Kiaer, Nina Canell, Lara Favaretto, Nina Beier et Owen Land, et pour des institutions comme le Moderna Museet (Malmö), le Kunstverein de Hambourg, la Kunsthalle de Bern, le Sculpture Center (New York), le Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, le MACRO (Rome) et La Biennale de Rennes.
Ilaria Marotta “In January 1982, thirty-one years ago, Primo Levi was asked to say something about the future, giving voice to the writer of science fiction – or biology fiction, as Calvino said – that was in him,” writes Marco Belpoliti talking about the future in a recent article appeared on doppiozero. “He did it” – he continues – “ in Tuttolibri, together with and next to James G. Ballard, a far more apocalyptic author. Levi simply reiterated the predictions made twenty years earlier by Arthur Clarke, commenting on what had actually come true and what had not. Among the various things that happened, there was the landing on the moon, one year before Clarke’s prediction; Clarke had also envisioned a “personal radio” by 1980: Levi thought this was easy but not convenient to produce: better let it go. Now that we have the Internet and social networks, something similar has happened…”. Here, the author stresses that talking about the future always entails the idea of a bet or a prediction. We can only speak of the future in the present. And similarly, your project The Registry of Promise, whose first event has been presented at the Fondazione Giuliani in Rome, investigates not so much your vision of the future as an aspiration for the future, or rather a promise for the future. What is the future that artists seem to promise?
Chris Sharp It is indeed true that the future can only speculated about from the position of the present. As for what you say about The Registry of Promise and the proprietorship of visions (mine or the artists’), I hadn’t thought about that before, but now that I do, I think it is actually shared – that it, this vision, is something that we produce, or maybe better yet, experience together, curator and artist, as if we coincide and enter in a kind of complicity. In fact, it is this kind of ideal complicity that prevents, I believe, a show from being about ideas as opposed to art (i.e., using art to illustrate ideas) and which is why I never feel comfortable with term “research,” and why I feel like I don’t really do any, properly speaking, nor do any of the artists with whom I have the great privilege to work. If I am not mistaken, the term presupposes a quantifiable scientific method (hypothesis, proof) which, contrary to recent popular opinion, has very little, if anything, to do with the fundamental, insuperable and incommensurable (unquantifiable) sense of uncertainty and mystery intrinsic to art.
As for the question of the future and promise, the relationship of the artists in this overall exhibition with time, is, I hope, much more complex. It has as much to do with the past and the present as with future. It’s more a question of the ambiguity at the heart of the notion of promise – its ultimate lack of allegiance to a given or specific temporality.
I am not sure what kind of future artists can offer us. Part of me wants to believe in this utopian relic of the avant-garde, and another part believes that it is, to a certain extent, responsible for some of the least interesting art being made today, whether it be through the predominantly affirmative, non-critical embrace of the internet and technology among the majority of what is commonly referred to as “post-internet art” or through the positivistic instrumentalization of art in “social practice.” This much I can unoriginally say, great art usually allows me to perceive things in a way I would have never perceived them before, that which in turn inevitably opens up new perspectives. I can also say that I believe that there is a lot of compassion in the work I am showing – something I am coming to value more and more in art (as well as in literature), which is rare and which probably has more to do with the future than we might initially think, even if it is essentially timeless.
I.M. In that same article, the writer supports the idea of a return to primitivism, the need to recover deep roots, the reassertion of basic needs to address the advancement of new technologies, social networking, a virtual context. If we look at historical determinism, we know that every action is the result of a previous one. So the future is actually in progress. In this perspective, the prediction of a future action is no longer something abstract, but rather something that we build day by day in the present. In an exhibition that I recently curated, called The Time Machine (The Survivors), there was a clear reference to the in-progress perception of the future. What is the aspect that most attracts you about the future? The new languages, new aesthetics, or specific issues (ecology, the legacy of history, nature…)? Which of these areas have you explored or will explore in your four exhibition projects, and in what order was the general design of the exhibition envisioned?
C.S. I suppose that the aspect that most attracts me about the future is its ability to generate if not narrative, then form (which is always a kind of narrative, or way to prevent the story from yielding up its contents, once and for all, and ending) – which is one of the primary points of this show. To what extent can the future generate narrative and form? Or rather, to what extent is our western perspective of the future capable of generating it? If that perspective has been exhausted (the dominant western narrative/mythology seems to be not just the end of the world, but how it will end) then how can we imagine other perspectives, other forms? By shedding the old one (melancholy); abandoning a linear conception of time and embracing a multiplicity of times (multiple times); accepting the impossibility of a non-human narrative (moving things); and lastly, by stretching literature and language itself to new limits. But all of that makes the exhibitions that compose The Registry of Promise sound more prescriptive and idea-based than they actually are. Their relationship to ideas is probably closer to poetry’s relationship to ideas, which is one of form, at least where Wallace Stevens is concerned, when he writes: “The poem must resist the intelligence almost successfully.”
I.M. I found the first event of the project at the Giuliani really well arranged, sophisticated, almost metaphysical in the choice of the large voids between each work. Such an arrangement of space is a curatorial choice, but can it also be interpreted as your own personal reading of an imaginary future? Rarefaction, order, or entropy?
C.S. Thank you very much. Metaphysical is not a term I would have ever selected to describe it, but now that you mention it, de Chirico does come to mind, as well as a corresponding sense of deliberateness, meaning (or lack thereof), crisis, and even desolation. The latter probably has more to do with my spatial decisions in the Giuliani show than anything. I wanted to create a potent, yet understated sense of drama. All the work in the show is very powerful and I wanted to emphasize that power, even if I did so toward non-specific narrative ends – for instance, it seems like something has happened in The Promise of Melancholy and Ecology, which is very much of the order of aftermath, but whatever has happened has less to do with an event than, say, a psychological condition: melancholy (a condition, which, predicated on loss, inwardly leans more toward emptying out the world than filling it up).
I also think that some, if not all the works really deserved the space. Jean-Marie Perdrix’s amalgamated, bronze horse head, for instance – an object as beautiful as it is harrowing – needed a room all to itself, I believe, in order to fully realize itself. But then again, to speak generally, I think all great art deserves a lot of space in order to be properly seen, and that, reversing the same logic, all the space in Giuliani can be gleaned as a measure of not only how powerful the art in it is, but also, by extension, how fortunate I am to be able to work with it.
1. Jochen Lempert, Untitled, 2005, silver gelatin print; 37 x 28 cm. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona.
2. Peter Buggenhout, Gorgo #33, 2013, mixed media: wax, plastic, blood, horse hair, cardboard, PU-foam, polyester; 48 x 72 x 49 cm; vitrine and pedestal 147 x 80 x 60 cm. Courtesy Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris
3. Jochen Lempert, Untitled (from: Symmetry and the Architecture of the Body), 1997, 2 silver gelatin prints; 18 x 24 cm each. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona
4. Marlie Mul, Puddle (Faint Blue), 2014, sand, stones, resin, objects; 95 x 88 cm. Courtesy Fluxia, Milan
5. Jean-Marie Perdrix, Cheval, bronze à la chair perdue 3, 2013, cast of copper alloy, carbon and ash; 25 x 77 x 33 cm. Courtesy Desiré Saint Phalle, Mexico City
6. Jochen Lempert, Fire, 2008, 6 silver gelatin prints; 18 x 24 cm each. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona
7. Jochen Lempert, Martha, 2005, silver gelatin print; 30 x 28 cm. Courtesy ProjecteSD, Barcelona
Photos: Giorgio Benni
Project: The Registry of Promise
Spaces: Fondazione Giuliani, Parc Saint Léger, Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, De Vleeshal
Protagonists: Chris Sharp, Peter Buggenhout, Jochen Lempert, Marlie Mul, Jean-Marie Perdrix, Patrick Bernatchez, Juliette Blightman, Rosalind Nashashibi, Francisco Tropa, Andy Warhol, Anicka Yi, Nina Canell, Alexander Gutke, Mandla Reuter, Hans Schabus, Michael E. Smith, Antoine Nessi