In The Studio - Cristopher Cichocki

Site, Sound, Salvation



Cristopher Cichocki

ETHAN KAMINSKY

Flexing artistic muscle in a variety of media, Cristopher Cichocki draws attention to decaying environments

They looked surprised, curious. Stepping into the multimedia — and multisensory — installation Desert Abyss, visitors felt, heard, and smelled the sand, fish bones, and barnacles from the Salton Sea. And they snapped to attention, as a lesson about the intersection of fine art and the natural environment unfolded in three galleries at the Walter N. Marks Center for the Arts in Palm Desert.

For the artist, Cristopher Cichocki (chä-hä-skee), “Desert Abyss” was his first solo exhibition in the Coachella Valley, where he lives and works. For his audience, the paintings and sculpture with sound and video amplified the delicate and often-devastating collisions between people and the land and water around them. Working in a variety of media, Cichocki’s consciousness-raising art communicates in bright, loud, and often interactive fashion.

“Everyone who entered literally took part in the exhibition by walking and shifting through the crunch and dust from the ground,” he says. “Audio soundscapes of water filled each room, overlapping into a textural ambiance. Live and dead fish from the Salton Sea provided a particular scent in the space. The environment captured both beauty and corrosion that is difficult to fully describe in words.”

Day-Glo green and orange paint emphasize the “tension between organic and inorganic” and the “radioactive, acidic transformation, both hazardous and surreal in beauty.”

Located on the College of the Desert campus, the Marks Center opened the exhibition to eight art classes. For the first half of each session, Cichocki took the position of “fly on the wall,” listen-ing to students discuss and interact with the artwork. Then he joined the discussion. “I was overwhelmed by how pointedly each class articulated my intentions with ‘Desert Abyss,’” he says. “It was a truly insightful experience to get such a raw dose of unfiltered feedback that showed how the exhibition communicated itself.”

Water has always been a major theme in Cichocki’s work. “The transformative, ever-changing cycles within water essentially provide life,” says the 2001 graduate of California Institute of the Arts. “In contrast, an absence of, or contamination in, water just as easily takes life away. Collaborating with nature by re-examining, reinventing organic forms is at the core of my practice.”

Tough to classify, Cichocki takes cues from several movements and genres: Fluxus, conceptual, earthworks, Arte Povera, minimalism, and experimental music. His work asserts a symbiotic relationship; paintings, for example, often become sculptural, while retaining the gestures from his drawing process. “My photos, which become extensions of my sculptures, are very painterly and often used in my video,” he says. “My art practice is a cycle within a cycle, a process that is fluid and develops a synergy.”

Much of his art lives and dies outside the traditional gallery context as ephemeral works using found objects, often installed along dirt roads and captured through photography and video. His video compositions look like they sound — and vice versa. His 45-minute debut “visual album,” Elemental Shift, which took longer than two years to compose, was released by the Los Angeles label Table of Contents and screened in Canada, Sweden, and Brazil.

Last summer, Cichocki created a site-specific installation in the “ROJO®NOVA” exhibition at the Museum of Image and Sound in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he also collaborated with other artists and performed six shows under his DJ moniker, Set Below Sea Level. He will participate again next summer in Rio de Janeiro.

Meanwhile, he also plays drums with an outfit called State Rec. and recently released “Overnight” (Accidie Records), his solo debut as Saivus in a hypnotic soundscape project. He also works as a curator at The Arts at Context, a 22,000-square-foot center in Indio, where he’ll introduce musicians and artists, as well as youth workshops, in conjunction with the Coachella Valley Arts Alliance.

View Cichocki’s new work at Melissa Morgan Fine Art in Palm Desert and the artist’s website, www.cristophersea.com.

Art + Culture

Related Articles

What to Do Labor Day Weekend in Greater Palm Springs

Labor Day Weekend marks the symbolic close to summer, but it's also a long weekend filled with music, food, and a host of activities in Greater Palm Springs.

"Top Rock" Commands Stage at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs

"Top Rock" brings a brash, rockin' musical tribute to the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs on Friday and Saturday nights through September.

Palm Springs Horoscope - August 2014

Just persevere through these tough times, and know that the hard way will become the right road in 2015.

Palm Springs Horoscope - July 2014

Entering Leo on July 16, Jupiter ramps up the social calendar. There will be more summer parties than last year — expect an overbooked schedule.

Star Power

The Palm Springs Walk of Stars honors philanthropic superhero Lynda Carter for shattering stereotypes and blazing new paths for generations of women.

Promotions + Contests

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couple’s getaway
90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Each month, a first place winner will be selected to win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!And, each month, three additional runners up will be selected to win a wonderful Palm Springs area Dining certificate!
2013/14 Best of the Best

2013/14 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.