Christopher Richmond

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What Is My Work About?

My work challenges the aesthetic of traditional story telling by inviting viewers to engage more with the interpretation of narrative (discourse) than the narrative itself (story). Rather than develop works with clear plot lines, chronological events, and finely etched characters, I resist traditional narrative convention. I create films, videos and photographic series that require active interpretation by viewers. My works destabilize action and create breakdowns in narrative structure, expand and compress standard narrative lengths, and explore tensions between the conflicting desires of my characters. I want viewers to leave their roles as passive observers to become my collaborators.

Artist Statement

My artistic work challenges the aesthetic of traditional story telling by inviting viewers to engage more with the interpretation of narrative (discourse) than the narrative itself (story). Through film, video, and photography, I explore the rhetorical dimension of story, or the manner in which it positions, manipulates, and influences the viewer. My work is inspired by philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, who noted that we are rarely conscious of why we act or think in certain ways; it is only when there are “breakdowns” and our actions fail that we fully analyze a situation.

In my films and videos, I use various strategies to subvert dominant narrative conventions. I intentionally create breakdowns by disrupting plot lines, stranding characters, and failing to wrap up random events. Yet clues remain between the story’s partly knowable past and unknowable future, forcing viewers to consider different possibilities for interpreting the narrative’s structure and action. My works experiment with compression and expansion of standard narrative lengths. Through compression, I squeeze out interconnecting events that show how actions come together and achieve resolution. By expanding narratives through repetition of simple acts, I introduce viewers to the interplay of image and sound, gesture and rhythm, and impassivity and emotion.

One of my short films, Chasing the Horizon, presents a performance suggestive of a Sisyphean task. In one long tracking shot, the character chases the horizon, as if he is trying to stop the sunset and prevent the day’s end. In another piece, Available Light, an operator whose face is mostly obscured by a colorful, spinning pinwheel repeatedly presses, twists and turns a series of knobs, appearing to control the action of machinery invisible to the viewer. Variations in the quickness of finger movements, whirling of the pinwheel and mechanical sounds send the eye searching for places that cannot be found, and create tension as viewers struggle to glimpse more of the operator’s face. The work is held together by gesture: the repetitive, fluid movements of the operator’s hands over the course of the action. In still another piece, Tomayto Tomahto, a solitary cowboy at a campfire tells a strange tale about an ancient typewriter and a sliced tomato against a backdrop of percussive noises. This piece disrupts the structure of traditional narratives where music is subjugated to the background. My audience experiences how musical instruments can induce layers of meaning within and behind the story.

I also create works where characters exhibit strong and often competing motives and desires, challenging the standard arc of character development. Viewers must decipher what my characters are thinking and feeling, and rely on their own experiences to deduce their unconscious motives. In A Stop at Willoughby, a man staggers through a forest in a howling thunderstorm and viewers are left to intuit the cause of his growing apprehension. My film, Panthalassa, follows a crew of sailors on a surreal journey over a clairvoyant sea. The film explores conflicting primal impulses, such as the tension between longing for freedom and the attraction to security, and the clash between the will to survive and its polar opposite, the death wish.

In my most ambitious hour-long piece, The Milky Way, viewers encounter a giant, unnamed humanoid figure (I call Gideon) who interacts with a diverse group of characters living on the margins of society. I spent eight months fabricating this seven-foot figure, whose round, placid face and deep-set eyes suggest innate intelligence. Characters are drawn to Gideon and confide personal thoughts and feelings to him, just as individuals may obtain a level of intimacy with total strangers on a bus or plane. They engage in random monologues and conversations as they travel through rural and urban landscapes, recounting childhood experiences, aches and pains, and theories about the evolution of man and the universe. However, Gideon never speaks on camera so there is no access to his inner thoughts or point of view. I compress narrative film time in this work, eliminating the interconnecting events that explain why this odd group was brought together and for what purpose. The film juxtaposes images of the simplicity of nature with the complications of modern society, as well as the conflicting motives of characters seemingly torn between materialism and a desire for spiritual enlightenment. Viewers are left to wonder how Gideon joined this group and why he is here. To provide comfort or redemption? Create a more caring society? Or, is he just an accidental traveler from another galaxy?

My artwork also includes photographic series that address themes such as identity and belonging, and that invite viewers to ascribe meaning to my visual images. The series of self-portraits, Radical Acceptance, excludes my face in order to explore gesture in a non-narrative context.

As an artist, I strive to liberate traditional storytelling modes and structures. Watching my films is not a passive experience – I ask viewers to become my collaborators, and to evaluate and re-evaluate my works. My goal is to create, nurture and celebrate art that explores alternative ways of understanding the human experience.

 

CV

BORN

1986, Solana Beach, CA

Lives and works in Los Angeles

 

 

EDUCATION

2014
Masters of Fine Arts, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

2009
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Film Production, Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, Orange, California

2009
Minor, Studio Art, College of Performing Arts at Chapman University, Orange, California

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2014
“R”, Gayle & Ed Roski Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

2010
“Prelude”, Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange, California

2009
“12 O’clock” C17, Vienna, Austria

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2014
“A Soft Almond Of A Poetic / Objects On A Shelf”, 3 Days Awake, Los Angeles, CA
Curated by Mateo Tannatt

2014
“Burned By The Sun”, Mallorca Landings, Mallorca, Spain

2014
“With Anonymous & Others”, Nomadenetappe, Linz, Austria
Curated by Bernhard Garnicnig

2013
“Dwelling in Erasure”, Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Curated by Alexandra Wetzel

2013
“Slow Dance”, Gayle & Ed Roski Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

2013
“The Unknown”, Space 4 Art, San Diego, CA

2012
“Appropriation – Re-enactment”, Fotogalerie Wien, Vienna, Austria
Curated by Petra Noll

2012
“Triptych Tripping” Lust Gallery, Vienna, Austria

2011
“Blue Hour”, Wonderloch Kellerland, Los Angeles, California

2011
“Imitation of Action”, Latned Atsär, Los Angeles, California

2011
“Interchange” Exchange LA, Los Angeles, California
Curated by Anna Meliksetian

2011
“Some People Like to Go Out Dancing” Flag Stop Art Fair, Torrance, California
Curated by Lilly Siegel

2011
“Blue Ribbon”, Paredon Blanco, Los Angeles, California

2011
“Random Selection”, Martha Otero, Los Angeles, California

2009
“Zapped Up Void” Soho20, New York, New York

2008
“Running Time 24:00:00” Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Los Angeles, California
Curated by Micol Hebron

 

SCREENINGS

2014
“The Milky Way” M+B Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2014
“The Milky Way” Gayle & Ed Roski Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

2014
“Screening III” Favorite Goods, Los Angeles, California

2012
“Christopher Richmond: Selected Films” Machine Project, Los Angeles, California

2011
“Return to Zero” Paredon Blanco, Los Angeles, California

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

2014
Kapusta, Barbara, and Christopher Richmond. “How do we distinguish random movements from signals? A Gesture combines bodily movement and meaning.” Nowiswere: Contemporary Art Magazine. June 2014. Web.

2013
Jutz, Gabriele, and Petra Noll. Aneignung / Appropriation. Fotogalerie Wien, Austria: Fotobuch NR. 49/2012, 2013. Print.

2012
“The Yellow Eye Without Its Way Twice-told”. Aspect: The Chronicle of New Media Art, Volume 20: The Cinematic. [DVD] Prod. Aspect: The Chronicle of New Media Art, 2012. DVD.

2011
Nüans., ed. “Does it look like a shipwreck.” Apogee: A Compilation of Solitude, Ecology and Recreation. Berlin: Revolver, 2011. Print.

2010
Szpilman., ed. The Great Szpilman. Berlin: Szpilman, 2010. Print.

2009
Schütte, Christoph. “Künstler, Spaßvögel und Frauen im Milchkreis.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 1 August 2009. Print.

2009
Larkin, Lamia. “Reception, Perception.” OC Arts and Culture. 1 April 2009. Web.

2008
Bosetti, Petra. “Ein Preis für (fast) Nichts.” Art Magazin. 1 November 2008. Print.

 

AWARDS / GRANTS

2014
FotoKem Filmmaker Grant
Foto-Kem Industries, Inc.

2008
Szpilman Award: Best Seven, Chasing the Horizon
Szpilman Award, Berlin, Germany

2008
Szpilman Award: Best Seven, Painting the Sky Blue
Szpilman Award, Berlin, Germany