Charisa – shining a torch on queer and female artists who are being ignored within the commercial industry.
CHARIZA INTERVIEW FOR SANG BLEU
Friday sees the open of a new gallery concept, Chariza. Hosted in a purpose built space nestled between Tate Britain and Chelsea College of Arts, Chariza is using her position to subvert art world norms and shine a torch on queer and female artists she feels are being ignored within the commercial industry. As much of a persona and character as she is a physical entity, Chariza will exhibit five creatives, Jenkin Van Zyl, Coven collective member Hannah le Feuvre, James Cabaniuk, Vienna based Paratsu and abstract roof paintings from Derek. Accompanying her first show is a weeklong programme of events, with highlights including a one-day only queer punk festival, (featuring performances from Niagara Falls, Alpha Maid & others), brunch before pride, and an ‘Intellectual Sex Party’ exploring how the digital age has changed sex. Committed to creating an inclusive space and community, we talk to Chariza creator Karis Clapperton on the eve of her private view…
Who is Chariza?
Karis: Chariza is a project-based gallery, she’s a reaction to me wanting to create something that I felt represents people that are undervalued and underappreciated in the art world. She’s more than just a gallery because it’s also a persona; Chariza isn’t an identity as such but an applied character. My work in the past has been centred on identity and performance, creating different characters in response to things that annoy me, so my personal work is very reactionary. Chariza is not so much a performance but its performative, she’s still me, but its applied. Chariza is also a way of feminising the gallery model. I really like the confusion surrounding it, Chariza is she as much as she is the gallery, everything is interchangeable and I like that Chariza is a person and a female energy as much as it is a physical space.
What motivated you to create the gallery and space?
K: We’re at a point in the art world in which there isn’t fair representation, which is kind of ridiculous but true. Galleries are still favoring white males whilst there are so many other exciting artists and contemporary practices that deserve the attention. As a person who identifies as both female and queer I feel that often my voice and other artists involved in this project’s voices aren’t being heard or aren’t valued in certain arenas. Working in Mayfair galleries made me realise, despite the fact the commercial gallery industry is incredible and so ambitious, it’s basically soul destroying. It’s not supportive of artist’s practices and only cares about sales. Chariza isn’t driven by sales. This project is about creating a space that’s interesting, current and supports artists whose practices might not be traditionally or commercially viable.
You’ve described Chariza as a direct response to misogyny in the art world, why did you feel it was important to confront and oppose these issues?
K: I feel like in the art world there are a lot of female identities working in galleries however they’re often viewed in a patronising and vapid way. The notion of the gallerina is still rife and the idea that to be a young female artist you have to behave and be a certain way. I wanted Chariza to be a really strong female energy in the sense that she’s queer, powerful and really making sure she represents and works with people who might not have been privileged enough to have a art education background. I find it quite interesting that Chariza for her first show is placed between the Tate Britain and Chelsea, and I’m committed to working with artists who are young and emerging but also working with people who don’t have an educational background or artists with disability. I think it’s really important that Chariza bridges the gap between community project and something that exists amongst the art world and therefore deserves attention and credibility.
How did you pick the artists involved?
K: One thing I really wanted to do was work with people who I enjoyed working with as I wanted Chariza to be an idea that’s really based around relationships and a supportive network. I met James and Hannah at Chelsea, Jenkin at Slade, Paratsu lives in Vienna and Derek, who did the roof paintings, I’ve been working on a community project with for a long time. The common thread is that everyone is socially engaged; everyone’s work is based around having a strong feminist or queer identity. This first show doesn’t have a curated theme, its more a celebration of Chariza opening and existing.
Five words to sum up Chariza?
Strong-willed, ambitious, supportive, eager and passionate
For more info on Chariza: http://www.chariza.co.uk
Article written by Ione Gamble