Hi everyone! I’m Chris Fraser, a visual artist living and working in San Francisco, California. I’m honored and excited to share that my artwork will be part of the 55th International Venice Biennale. For those who don’t follow the art world day-in and day-out, the Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy. It has a century-long track record of showing the best of contemporary art from around the world, and this year, I’ve been invited to take part. This is both a humbling honor and a significant challenge. From developing site-specific work from thousands of miles away, to creating a plan to ship extremely delicate materials across the ocean, to all the learning and discovery that goes into making a brand new body of work, the Biennale has presented me with plenty of creative and financial problems to solve.
- Learn more about the Biennale di Venezia here
- Learn more about the show Personal Structures at the Palazzo Bembo here
What makes this opportunity so exciting and challenging is the artwork itself. For Venice, I’m building an installation that creates a unique optical effect. Through light refraction combined with the mechanics of human sight, visitors will experience floating rainbows that appear to move with their bodies. After discovering this optical phenomena and dedicating months to developing it, I can’t wait to share the finished work with the audience at the Venice Biennale.
The materials I use to create this work, tiny glass spheres and sharp, focused lights, are as delicate as the effect. I first encountered the glass spheres several years ago while crossing the street on a sunny day. They are commonly mixed into traffic paint in order to make it reflective. In this case, the beads weren’t just mixed into the paint as they should have been—they had spilled out everywhere. While crossing, I was stopped by the appearance of a halo around the shadow of my head. Everywhere I walked, the halo followed me. I was fascinated.
Back in my studio, I spent a few years mulling over the spheres, practicing different ways of capturing and sharing the effect that I had seen. Last December, the pieces started to come together. And in the five months since then, I’ve explored materials and processes to develop the final product, a way of mounting the beads to wall-hung panels such that the optical effect I saw in the crosswalk is not only captured, but heightened and intensified. As the rainbow-like halos float off the surface and follow your movements, your own location anchors what you see. I call the work Centers.
You can be a part of bringing this work to fruition—and to Italy. My main remaining challenges are financial, including the costs of safely shipping the delicate materials overseas and traveling to Venice myself to precisely install the work. I can’t quite express how much I want to share this work with the international audience that visits the Biennale, but I can say I’ve put everything I have into getting the work there. Now I’m ready to share the excitement with you.
I was humbled at my last exhibition, at Disjecta in Portland, Oregon, when I realized people were really moved by the work. Aaron Scott from Portland Monthly Magazine said about the show:
"If you haven’t seen it, you need to load the family in the car, grab your Max pass, or hop on your rain-slicked bicycle and peddle your winter-light-craving self up to Disjecta—double time. This is one of those rare shows capable of generating sheer and utter joy across demographics, from stodgy art veterans to those who find art inaccessible and pretentious to seven year olds."
My hope is to bring that same joy to visitors in Venice. By supporting this project, you’ll be spreading joy, too.
All support in all amounts gets my sincerest thanks—I can't do this without you. If you'd like to claim a little more than my gratitude, I'm happy to share these rewards with you (more details to your right):
Wearable Light: Pinback button featuring an image from my series of light bulb recordings.
Venice Memento: Thank-you postcard written by me and mailed to you from Venice, Italy.
Portable Light: Cotton canvas tote bag featuring an image from my series of light bulb recordings.
Dinner and Conversation: An invitation to join me and a small group of supporters for a private dinner to recap the project and the journey to Venice and back.
Your Own Rainbow: One 7-inch circle of the project material, a handcrafted surface of refractive glass microspheres. Create your own halo installation—you just provide the light.
Light Proposal: Limited edition framed print representing a proposed installation for the skylights of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Collector’s Suite: A selection of three unique test plates from the development of the project, one 7-inch circle of the final glass material, one limited edition framed print, and a personal thank-you postcard from Venice.
Life-Size Light: One unique, framed direct light recording from the exhibition Eidolons at HIGHLIGHT gallery.
Light to Live In: Commission for a unique light installation using an existing window in your home. (Feel free to contact me for more information before selecting this reward!)
Risks and challenges
When you are shipping thousands of tiny delicate glass beads, there are at least a thousand things that COULD go wrong. I have already begun extensive research on the best methods for shipping and a large portion of the funds generated from this Kickstarter will help me ensure the artwork’s safe arrival.
Part of that insurance will be fabricating more of the material than is needed to complete the installation, to allow for breakage in shipping. Thus, another portion of the funds will cover creating excess material so that the show will go on, even if there's a setback.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)