Text by Michael Clifton
Wrapped in assorted colors, the handcrafted paper and enamel text sculptures of Chris Caccamise obliquely comment on the manufacture of longing and desire in popular culture. Song titles and quotes appropriated from Top 40 musicians such as Britney Spears and The Cure often fuel the artist’s bittersweet observations. Taken chronologically, “Why can’t I be you” (2005) might offer tender reply to “This is the life I’ve always wanted” (2003). Upon closer inspection, internal contradictions within the sculptures reveal a sly interplay of compositional syntax, allowing for nuanced readings. The patriotic colors of “Why can’t I be you” don’t quite match the sequence of our red, white and blue, but instead sing of a slightly muddled allegiance; similarly, Ms. Spear’s airy affirmation, piled aboard a flatbed road-warrior truck, seems confidently poised to conquer middle America. Using a similar strategy, “Blast” (2005) resounds with the Slap-Bam-Pow of Marvel comics. Resembling a Tyco train set prop, the mighty sculpture clocks in at only 6 x 4 inches; its meager scale and emptied color palette (white letters on a white backdrop) undercut any heroic yearnings. As in much of Caccamise’s work, a saccharine induced impotence is on hand to mock the machismo of “Blast”.
Not all text works originate in the warren of popular culture. “I like things pretty much the way they are” (2005) could reflect the mutterings of a teenager, a 30-something, or your grandmother; its ageless, indeterminate authorship beckons to a universal complacency. In another sculpture, thin strips of paper, laid side-by-side and meticulously enameled, stretch upward to form the structuring ground of “Zombies” (2005). Etched onto a grassy hillside, the choc-a-bloc, rainbow hued letters recall the iconic HOLLYWOOD marker, however its cheery artifice imparts a grayer view. While “Zombies” contemplates gleeful infatuation with celebrity, it also mirrors our society’s own conflicted visage, equally footed on the schism of escape and desire.
A recent work entitled “Career”, presents another version of the empty palette, this time black-on-black. Eschewing the peacock colors and vacant whites of previous works, it might portray the artist taking a caustic look inward. Like some bedroom hobbyist schooled by Confucius, Chris Caccamise requisitions the toy trucks and pop songs of adolescent desire and serves them back to us as conceptual confections tinctured with mature grace.
‘Why can’t I be you 2005’, Courtesy: Sixtyseven Gallery, New York
‘This is the life I’ve always wanted, 2003’, Courtesy: Sixtyseven Gallery, New York
‘I like things pretty much…, 2005’, Courtesy: Sixtyseven Gallery, New York
‘Excavator, 2003’, Courtesy: Sixtyseven Gallery, New York
‘Blast, 2005’,Courtesy: Sixtyseven Gallery, New York
‘Zombies, 2005’, Courtesy: Sixtyseven Gallery, New York
‘Career, 2005’,Courtesy: Sixtyseven Gallery, New York