For his debut Los Angeles exhibition, Westfall presents a new body of work consisting of installation, sculpture, and painting that collectively operate as a set of proposals on the cultural and societal function of violence.
The exhibition brings together a diverse set of philosophical, anthropological, and literary perspectives in an effort to assemble a composite structure capable of accounting for violence as a kind of cultural imperative, and through which current and historical events (most significantly the ongoing civil war in Syria) can be addressed. At the same time, Westfall explores practical mechanisms for mitigating and/or offsetting that imperative or, as an alternative, for maximizing the cultural and sociological utility of violent acts once they have occurred.
(per the artist)
This body of work is operative as a format. Each work stands as a node of information density, which is collectively linked to or interlaced with each other through any combination of channels to create the overall experience of (consideration of) Terror Function. Of particular significance to the development of this body of work:
- The theories of Rene Girard, Eyal Weizman, David Joselit, Hannah Arendt, and the foundational principles of Judeo-Christian theology; the literature of Leo Tolstoy, Cormac McCarthy, and the Bible; and the work of artists Antonio Lopez Garcia, Vasily Vereshchagin, and Eyal Weizman.
- Despite the assertive tone of the title, the exhibition is not intended to present a definitive statement, or set of conclusions. Rather, it is an open framework of associations, connections, and intuitions within which these different philosophical positions, ideologies, and events can resonate against each other; and within which the often surprising patterns and coincidences of their forms, origins and operations can be appreciated. In other words, the works of art in this exhibition are networked components working for the accumulation of collective content.
- In seeking to account for the function or operational imperative of violence, it is not my intention to “rationalize” or justify that violence in any way (It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!) but, rather, to create a field within which that violence can be comprehended not as something alien or external, but as an inevitable outgrowth of a set of historical, cultural, and societal conditions within which we are all enmeshed and, to that extent, complicit.
- In dealing with this subject matter, the exhibition also seeks to address the role/position of the artist as ‘witness’. Despite the best possible intentions, the artist’s witness is problematized by the fact that it is also an exploitation of the spectacle of violence. The artist presumes that they have the right to seek knowledge (self, philosophical, societal, spiritual) and prestige through the observation and presentation of the violence and suffering of others. On the level of culture, this is an acceptable practice (seeking to learn or convey learning without having to experience directly) and is precisely the point of storytelling, religious practice, moral principle, etc. On the the level of economics, however, it is like a kind of microcolonialism, in which the privileged gather in resources/rewards from places, experiences, labor, and sufferings which are not their own.
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Chase Westfall, (born in Albany, New York 1980) lives and works in Gainesville, Florida with his wife and children. Drawing on a broad range of philosophical, theological, and artistic influences, Westfall investigates the cultural meaning and societal function of violence. Through sometimes jarring combinations of graphic representation of torn human and animal flesh alongside geometric abstraction, his work gives equal voice to both the heat and brutality of the violent act and the cool, detached analysis to which he seeks to subject it. Though trained as a painter, Westfall’s practice encompasses a broad range of media including painting, sculpture, installation, video and performance.
Westfall received his BFA from the University of Florida in 2008, and MFA from the University of Georgia in 2011. From 2011-2013 he served as Assistant Professor of Art at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. He is currently the director of Gallery Protocol, a contemporary art gallery in Gainesville, Florida and assistant director of ImperfectArticles.com. His work has been exhibited nationally at galleries and fairs such as Expo Chicago in 2015 with Imperfect Articles, as well as internationally in Germany and South Korea.
Solo and Two Person Exhibitions
2015 Terror Function, 101/EXHIBIT, Los Angeles, CA
2013 Faculty Exhibition, ETSU Tipton Gallery, Johnson City, TN
2013 Chase Westfall, 101/EXHIBIT, Miami, FL
2012 Chase Westfall, ETSU Tipton Gallery, Johnson City, TN
2010 Gypsy Acid Queen, Twin Kittens Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2010 Two Bros!, Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Athens, GA
2009 Platonic Voyage, Alfred University, Alfred, NY (performance)
2010 Platonic Voyage, Dugg Dugg Gallery, Charlotte, NC (performance)
2008 Two Rooms, Down Home Gallery, Gainesville, FL
Selected Group Exhibitions
2015 Imperfect Articles at Expo Fair, Chicago, IL
2014 101/EXHIBIT at Miami Projects, Miami, FL
2014 Drawn & Quartered, FLA Gallery, Gainesville, FL
2012 New APP, Gallery of the International Pavilion, Ulsan University, Ulsan, South Korea
2012 LIVE/WORK, Twin Kittens Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2011 Sea Worthy, Flux Factory, Long Island City, NY, (participating artist)
2011 Movers and Shakers, The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA
2011 On Spirituality, Gallery 842, Marshall University, Huntington, WV
2011 Reflections of Generosity, Patrick Henry Village Commons, Heidelberg, Germany
2009 Reflections of Generosity, Storck Barracks, Illesheim, Germany
2009 Making Masters, Madison Museum of Fine Arts, Madison, GA
2009 Reflections of Generosity, MWR Arts Gallery, Fort Drum, NY
2009 Art Student Exhibition, ISE Cultural Foundation, New York, NY
2009 Athica Emerges, Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Athens, GA