Chris Thorson: Long Term Relationships at Ampersand International Arts

Review

Chris Thorson: Long Term Relationships at Ampersand International Arts

By Jayna Swartzman-Brosky November 20, 2019

Long Term Relationships, Chris Thorson’s new exhibition at Ampersand International Arts in San Francisco, features recreations of everyday objects—cigarette butts, pill bottles, laundry—out of more permanent materials such as bronze and Hydrocal. In these works, Thorson invests time and material to transform mundane household goods into mementos of cohabitation. Sculptural facsimiles of bunched socks, crumpled sweaters, television remotes, and empty take-out bags are strewn throughout the gallery. Thorson reimagines these ephemeral forms of domestic life as permanent sculptures that gesture toward the casual ease and vulnerability that one may experience in a long-term relationship. Ampersand, a gallery set in a domestic space, is the ideal context for this exhibition, framing the objects in a familiar environment divorced from the clutter of un-curated living.

In everyday life—with its transitions, upgrades, unravelings—crumpled sweaters and discarded socks are laundered, folded, shelved, and re-worn. Loose change transforms into CoinStar gift cards. The Bart Simpson T-shirt becomes threadbare, destined for the dump. Everything will change at some point, likely, even the relationship: comfort to boredom to distance to resentment. Thorson’s presentation evokes these domestic scenes with these objects and, in doing so, creates a language of partnership: crumples, folds, and accumulation. The objects range from delicate and intimate to heavy and banal, all stuck in time. Thorson’s investment in material and process—and their tedium, specificity, durability—reflects the sustained attention of an artist committed to the hard work of making something true and lasting.

 

Chris Thorson. Projectile, 0.35 lbs., 2019; polished bronze; 3 1/4 x 1.5 x 0.5 inches. Courtesy of Ampersand International Arts and the Artist.

On a mirror-lined shelf, the artist stocks personal care products patinated in bronze: bottles for perfumes, pills, alcohol, nail polish; tubes for toothpaste and Neosporin. Thorson provides gloves for us to handle them, which, given their weight and polish, reminds viewers of the responsibility inherent in a gesture of trust. The heaviness of each object seems at odds with the measurement of weight that is noted next to their titles in the list of works. Memory exaggerates the contrast between reality and expectation, while the titles of the works shift from inside jokes (Manna) or barbs (Bro Palace) into descriptions of weapons (Blunt Instrument, 1.66 lbs.); taken together, Long Term Relationships exists somewhere between threat and fantasy.

Chris Thorson: Long Term Relationships was on view at Ampersand International Arts in San Francisco, CA through November 15, 2019.

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