28/09/2014 - 29/03/2015
The Langen Foundation is showing a solo show by Canadian-British artist Corin Sworn (b. 1976 in London). Often combining images with spoken narrative and using found material, her work examines cultural and personal significance attributed to objects and how they in turn narrate us as social subjects. Sworn creates installations that explore ways objects circulate through stories and histories being subject to constant change. These processual and unstable aspects of objects are a central focus of her exhibition Vibrant Matter at the Langen Foundation that concentrates on the production and perception of colour.
The work presented at the Langen Foundation is developed as a result of the artist’s extensive research at the archives of the Herbarium of Scotland’s Royal Botanical Gardens. In the process of her research Sworn mastered the natural dyeing properties of the plants creating a variety of works which are now on view in the Langen Foundation’s elongated Japan Room.
In the central body of work, Sworn extracted the natural colour of selected plants, like the Goldenrod or the common onion. Through an elaborate hand dyeing process, the artist dyed silk with the extracted colours and stretched the silk over thin, vertical format stretchers. The result is a sequence of smaller monochrome formats with a muted, yet varied spectrum, ranging from bright yellows to radiant blues and violets. A selection of plants from the Botanical Garden, used for Sworn’s experiments, are also presented as dried specimens, while another element of the exhibition comprises of a series of digital photographs of plants, as they’re found in the garden of the herbarium. In the images, the plants have been overlaid with vertical transparencies, providing information about the potential dye of each depicted plant.
The colour of the hand-dyed silk frames is partially left to chance, given the conditions of their chemical production process and considerable seasonal alterations in the respective plants. Thus, the concentration of the natural pigments dissolved as well as the composition of the mordant used to fix the pigments have significant influence on the colour which ultimately appears on the silk. Furthermore, the works also interact with the Langen foundation’s architecture. In Tadao Ando’s construction of glass and subtle béton brut, Sworn’s works appear in ever changing daylight, rendering their colours mercurial and contingent even after the process of production has concluded.
Two works in the exhibition, both referring to the precarious production of Crystal Meth, stand in stark contrast to Sworn’s partial relinquishment of artistic control in favour of natural processes. The digital print An Abandoned Crystal Meth Lab, for example, offers several symmetrical, monochromatic blue shapes and let’s the viewer conjure associations with production of the drug. Contrary to Sworn’s hand dyed silks, the production of An Abandoned Crystal Meth Lab doesn’t allow for any imprecisions or natural processes; it is calculable and synthetic. Against this backdrop, it becomes even clearer how Sworn uses natural, essentially unpredictable dyeing processes to show objects constantly changing in relation to time and their surroundings and, furthermore, how they elude any definite classification or control - vibrant matter.
Corin Sworn (b. 1976 in London) BA in Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver in 1999, BFA at The Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, Vancouver in 2002 and an MFA at The Glasgow School of Art in 2009. She lives and works in Glasgow.
Sworn exhibited widely and recently was a subject of solo exhibitions in institutions including Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2014), The Common Guild, Glasgow (2014), Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (2013), Chisenhale Gallery. London (2013), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012), Art Now, Tate Britain, London (2011), Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2011). Sworn was one of three artists representing Scotland at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 and recently participated in “You Imagine What You Desire”, 19th Biennale of Sydney. As a winner of Max Mara Prize for Women 2013 - 2015, Sworn will present solo exhibitions in Whitechapel Gallery, London and Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia in 2015. Corin Sworn is represented by Natalia Hug Gallery in Cologne and Kendall Koppe in Glasgow.
Installation views Corin Sworn. Vibrant Matter, Langen Foundation, Neuss, 2014 © the artist, Kendall Koppe, Glasgow und Natalia Hug Gallery, Cologne, Foto Susanne Diesner