A major new art commission by Corin Sworn, the latest winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, will be unveiled in May 2015 at the Whitechapel Gallery, London and October 2015 at Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia. The work follows the artist’s 6-month Italian residency in Rome, Naples and Venice, and marks the culmination of the fifth edition of the Prize.
The new work focusses on the rich history of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte, the improvised theatrical comedies from the 16th century onwards performed by touring troupes of actors. Combining architecture, sculpture and textiles, the installation will set the stage for a live performance. Sworn was particularly interested in the evolution of la commedia through history, and the instances of mistaken identity which often appear in its storylines. The role of clothing in 16th and 17th century Italian society, and the ability of the newly professionalised role of the actor to destabilise relationships and hierarchies is also explored.
During the residency the artist studied rare manuscripts of traditional plays, visited theatre productions and buildings such as Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio’s Teatro Olympico in Vicenza, whose grand trompe-l’œil stage set is the oldest in the world. Marking the midway point of the Prize and the end of Corin Sworn’s residency in Italy, in November 2014 she invites celebrated poet Lisa Robertson to join her in a collaborative presentation of readings. The evening provides a rare insight into both the artist and writer’s works in progress, and to some extent their working methods, featuring fragments of personal research projects, notes and writings.
Glasgow-based Corin Sworn was awarded the biannual Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery in January 2014. Established in 2005 to promote and nurture women artists in the UK and celebrate the contribution they make to contemporary art, the Prize is collaboration between the Collezione Maramotti, Max Mara and the Whitechapel Gallery. Sworn was chosen by a distinguished judging panel chaired by Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery and including Pilar Corrias, Director of Pilar Corrias Gallery, London; Candida Gertler, Founder and Director, Outset Contemporary Art Fund; Runa Islam, artist and Lisa Le Feuvre, Writer, Curator and Head of Sculpture Studies, Henry Moore Institute. Previous winners of the Prize are Turner Prize-winner Laure Prouvost, Andrea Büttner, Margaret Salmon and Hannah Rickards.
Corin Sworn was born in 1976 and lives and works in Glasgow. She studied a BA in Psychology at University of British Columbia, Vancouver; a BFA at the Institute of Art & Design, Vancouver and an MFA at The Glasgow School of Art. Sworn creates films and installations. In The Foxes (2012), recently exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale, the artist re-examined a collection of slides taken in 1973 by social anthropologist Gavin A. Smith during his fieldwork in a highland village in Peru. While touching on Smith’s original work on Peruvian land reform and tactics of peasant rebellion, Sworn’s installation focused on the legibility of photographs and how they are narrated through collective discussion. Recent exhibitions and screenings include a solo exhibition at Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2014),19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2014), The Rag Papers at Chisenhale Gallery (2013), Artists’ Film International: Corin Sworn at Whitechapel Gallery, London (2012) and Art Now: Corin Sworn at Tate Britain (2011).Recent group exhibitions include From Morn’ Till Midnight at Supportico Lopez, Berlin and Storytelling at National Gallery of Canada (2013). She is represented by Kendall Koppe Gallery, Glasgow and Natalia Hug Gallery, Cologne.
The Max Mara Fashion Group was founded in 1951 by Achille Maramotti and is now run by the next generation. It is one of the largest women’s ready-to-wear companies in the world, with 2369 stores in more than 100 different countries.