For her first museum exhibition in Ontario, Glasgow-based, Toronto-raised artist Corin Sworn brings together two works that focus on perception, chance, and the unstable, transformative nature of the visual and material world. Staged at Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens, the exhibition draws on the unique character of this former residence in a public park.
Endless Renovation (2010) takes as its starting point an abandoned collection of 35mm slides found by chance in an alleyway near the artist’s home in Glasgow. Images of mundane, domestic scenes, objects that are not easily deciphered, and numerous images of clocks hint at narrative and at the biography of the photographer, but give little away to the viewer. To accompany this visual sequence, Sworn has created a meandering and open-ended spoken narrative, composed from a miscellany of found texts, poetic and philosophical excerpts, and the artist’s own speculative thoughts on what the images might mean and why they were taken. The work also incorporates a flower arrangement placed directly in the light of a projector, which echoes imagery found in the slides and makes reference to the history of expanded cinema. Drawing from a collection of vases that range from the early 1900s to the late 1990s, each week a new arrangement is made in response to the specific, historical era of the vase in use. The installation’s play of light and shadow serves to remind viewers of the subjective nature of interpretation and the way meaning is inevitably projected when we attempt to make sense of the world.
For Vibrant Matter (2014), the artist has hand-coloured silk fabric using dyes sourced from a variety of plants—from Scottish natives such as Golden Rod, Rue, and Madder, to common food plants such as cabbage and onion skins. The outcome of unpredictable chemical changes that occur when plants, water composition, and the mordant used to fix the pigments combine, the colour variations in the resulting works range from earthy yellows and browns to delicate peaches and blues. These works are shown alongside dried botanical specimens that are sometimes used in the dying process, and photographs of plants that have been manipulated to enhance their chromatic range. Using precise, digital technology, these images stand in contrast to the more erratic, research-based processes of natural dying. The notion of “vibrant matter” lies at the heart of the work—an understanding of the material world as not static or set apart from us, but contingent, dynamic, and alive.
Presented in partnership with Oakville Galleries