Chris Caccamiseby Benjamin La Rocco
Chris Caccamise’s intimate paper sculptures are as engaging to encounter as the title of his current show at Star 67 gallery, The Secret Tornado and the Power of Being a Beast. He meticulously crafts the tiny automobiles, reservoirs, trains, and homes that compose his miniaturized world, covering the final sculpture with a thick coat of enamel paint. This last gesture gives the work an artificial veneer that facilitates the young artist’s gentle jabs at pop culture and high art.
In "This is the Life I’ve Always Wanted," a Britney Spears quote, the title’s words are constructed in paper then placed aboard a miniature flat bed truck, also made of enamel covered paper. Caccamise’s somewhat literal illustration of the commodity status of desire in popular culture is balanced by his craftsmanship and playful approach to his work. The sculpture, despite its serious message, is as innocuous as a child’s toy. Caccamise appears skeptical of art’s potential for effecting change in the society he criticizes.
The work is uneasily installed at Star 67. Most of his 29 sculptures sit on a two tiered set of shelves that project from the gallery wall between waist and chest level. There is little space between the shelves and the sculptures crowd one another. Why not use the floor of the gallery or integrate a support to allow the viewers their own miniaturized road trip through the space? Think of the pleasure of encountering "Small Forest," its stand of inch tall green trees and blue ranch house, tucked in the gallery’s corner. Such spatial considerations would highlight Caccamise’s skill in manipulating scale and force the viewer into a less static relationship with his work.
A few pieces in the show reveal considerable conceptual depth tinged with Caccamise’s omnipresent humor. "All the Water in a Swimming Pool" appears at first glance to be little more than a tabletop minimal sculpture. On closer examination it reveals itself to be what its title advertises: a model of the water contained by a swimming pool complete with small rectangular vents and illustrative waves on its surface. Caccamise, attentive to detail, gives us a true to life replica of an object that could never exist.
Once again, however, the show’s installation interferes with contemplating his work. A video monitor, installed on the wall just next to the sculptures, loops three of the artist’s videos. The sound from these quirky skits disturbs the concentration that the sculptures necessitate and merit. Star 67 is a small engaging space full of potential. The key for Caccamise lies in exploiting the spaces in which he shows to maximize the communicative potential of his work.
ContributorBenjamin La Rocco