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Christopher Robbins
Current location
New York, NY
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
2010, Collaborator

Christopher Robbins is an American artist that focuses his art practice in the realm of public art and social sculpture. Robbins works internationally, using physical and conversational processes to create interactions between strangers in order to build community and problem-solve.

Robbins works on the uneasy cusp of public art and international development, creating sculptural interventions in the daily lives of strangers. He uses heavy material demands and a carefully twisted work-process to craft awkwardly intimate social collaborations.

Robbins has lived and worked in London, Tokyo, West Africa, the Fiji Islands, and former Yugoslavia, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa, and spoke at a United Nations conference about his cross-cultural work in the South Pacific.

As a way of probing the troubling power dynamics he witnessed in his cross-cultural work, Robbins co-founded the Ghana ThinkTank (GTT) in 2006. With the mission “Developing the First World,” they collect problems in the so-called “Developed” world, and send them to think tanks they established in Cuba, Ghana, Iran, Mexico, El Salvador, and the U.S. prison system to analyze and solve (the network continues to grow.)

Then they work with the communities where the problems originated to implement those solutions – whether they seem impractical or brilliant.

His work with Ghana ThinkTank has been featured in major international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennial of Architecture; the National Museum of Wales; Hong Kong/Shenzhen Biennale in Shenzhen, China; ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany; New Museum Festival of Ideas; the Foundation for Art and Technology, Liverpool, UK; Nikolaj Kunsthallen/Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center; and Eyebeam Center, New York. Robbins has been awarded residencies or fellowships from Skowhegan, MacDowell Colony, Haystack, Penland, and Anderson Ranch, among others.

The Ghana ThinkTank was awarded a Creative Capital Grant in 2013, spoke at the 2014 Creative Time Summit, and has won major grants from the Knight Foundation and Kresge Foundation.

Christopher Robbins has an MFA from RISD Rhode Island School of Design, and teaches sculpture and art for social change at SUNY Purchase College School of Art & Design.




Partner Organizations: Not An Alternative

An exhibition curated and organized by Eyebeam, Not An Alternative, and Upgrade! NY

Eyebeam, in collaboration with Upgrade! NY and Not An Alternative, presented Re:Group: Beyond Models of Consensus, an exhibition that examined models of participation and participation as a model in art and activism.

Re:Group proposed that with participation now a dominant paradigm, structuring social interaction, art, activism, the architecture of the city, and the economy, we are all integrated into participatory structures whether we want to be or not.

The exhibition showcased work that subverts existing systems or envisions new alternatives to the ways in which individuals can take part, or choose not to take part, in social and cultural life.

Re:Group featured work by thirteen artists, designers, hackers, activists, and collectives exploring both the potential and limitations of participation, networked collaboration, and distributed labor. From the “crowdsourced” projects Ten Thousand Cents and White Glove Tracking to the tactical media art of The Yes Men and Ubermorgen, from the urban interventions of John Hawke and The Institute of Infinitely Small Things to the open platforms of Ushahidi and MakerBot – the exhibition represents a diverse range of critically and socially engaged work that rethinks the institutional practices within urban planning, civil engineering, transportation, industrial design and production, relief work, and the news media.

Re:Group opened to the public on Thursday, June 10, 2010, with a curator’s talk and a reception. The curator’s talk was moderated by Beryl Graham of the UK-based new media curatorial research institute CRUMB.

The opening week continued with a “Breakfast with the Artists” reception & talk on Friday, on June 11, and was moderated by Re:Group curators and featuring exhibiting artists The Institute for Infinitely Small Things, Christopher RobbinsTakashi Kawashima, John Hawke, and Giana Pilar González.

Re:Group included a full complement of public programs, organized as part of Eyebeam’s annual Summer School program. Eyebeam Summer School, Digital Day Camp, offers a lively mix of master classes, free public lectures, hands-on workshops and skillshares, and youth programs.

The exhibition not only presented completed work through gallery installations, but also functioned as a platform for new collaborative work. Through workshops, master classes, and discussions led by the exhibiting artists, the processes and methodologies behind the work are opened up to gallery visitors and invited communities, providing an opportunity to extend and reinterpret the artists’ ideas in new and unexpected ways.

Re:Group: Beyond Models of Consensus is curated by Upgrade! NY, the New York node of the international network, Upgrade!, founded in 1999 by media artist Yael Kanarek. The curatorial team is former Eyebeam program manager Paul Amitai, writer/activist Marco Deseriis, Beka Economopoulos and Jason Jones of Not An Alternative, former Eyebeam education coordinator Stephanie Pereira, and designer/educator Mushon Zer-Aviv.

Giana González – Hacking Couture
John Hawke – Orange Work – Mandatory Minimum–We Have Moved!
The Institute for Infinitely Small Things – Corporate Commands
Aaron Koblin and Takashi Kawashima – Ten Thousand Cents
Steve Lambert and Packard Jennings – Wish You Were Here! Postcards from our awesome future
MakerBot Industries – MakerBot
Christopher Robbins – Work Projects Administration 2010
Christopher Robbins, John Ewing, and Carmen Montoya – Ghana Think Tank
Evan Roth and Ben Engebreth – White Glove Tracking
Ushahidi – Crisis Map of Haiti
Ubermorgen – [V]ote-Auction
The Yes Men – GOOD COP 15
YoHa (Harwood, Yokokoji– Social Telephony Files

Curated and organized by Eyebeam, Not An Alternative, and Upgrade! NY
Produced and sponsored by Eyebeam
Curatorial team: Paul Amitai, Marco Deseriis, Not An Alternative, Mushon Zer-Aviv
Curatorial assistant: Joanne Cheung
Exhibition design: Not An Alternative and Paul Amitai
Brochure and environmental graphic design: Not An Alternative
Technical management and installation: Marko Tandefelt
Exhibition installation and construction: Nicholas Fraser, Kory Hellebust, Titania Inglis, Takayuki Ito, Not An Alternative, Jamie O’Shea

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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