Christopher Rivera creates intuitive sculptures that intervene in a space, demarcating a new “non-space,” as Michel Foucault termed such unseen places. Using wood, tape, or simply a painted line, his site-specific installations form a new environment that breaks from the traditional white-cube gallery experience, and, through exhibition design, provides an alternative perception of space.
Rivera’s work explores the impermanence of structures and the constantly shifting nature of space. His graphite on canvas drawing, Untitled (Ephemeral Structure) (2012), takes a concert crowd as a model of such fluctuating structures. As bodies move, negative space shifts, and these “flesh and bones” constructions become mutable towers of people. Bodies become architecture. Similarly, Rivera’s video piece for the Hunter College MFA Spring 2012 Thesis Exhibition presents the intuitive creation and destruction of a wood assemblage. The project took place in a desolated land clearing, with the artist and two workers as the construction crew. Rivera went without a plan or blueprints, and instead the video documents the instinctive process of making and destroying that Rivera employs in his temporary arrangements. The gestural mark of the wood not only transforms a space, but also offers a new way for bodies to move through it. The video alludes to the very nature of architecture as manmade and temporal.
In the Hunter College MFA Spring 2012 Thesis Exhibition, all of Rivera’s individual pieces come together to form a single installation. The model sculptures presented on a shelf are objects in themselves, but also function as part of a sort of cabinet of curiosities. They were created with the same spontaneous process as the artist’s larger sculptures, and each can be arranged on its various sides to redefine the space around it. The scale of the object does not detract from the notion that it is shifting the surrounding space and the way that viewers perceive and experience that area.
Rivera’s background is in printmaking, which is a strong artistic field in his native Puerto Rico. The artist claims that in certain situations text can offer more interpretation than images can. For his wall and floor carving, Rivera has chiseled the text “GOING IN CIRCLES” repeatedly in a circle, pointing to the nature of words as indexical signifiers. The message also suggests the nature of temporary constructions, and their perpetual creation and destruction. Whether Rivera is working in graphite, paint, tape, wood, or video, his chosen medium serves to manifest the nature of our fleeting existence, the unstable perception of our world and our place within in. When viewers move through his constructions, they move through into different dimensions.
By Misa Jeffereis