at Whitechapel Gallery
Glasgow-based artist, Corin Sworn, won the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in January 2014 and as part of the prize was awarded a 6 month residency in Italy to be divided between Rome, Naples and Venice. This wonderful new installation at The Whitechapel Gallery is the result of that residency.
Sworn spent her Italian residency researching the history and the culture of the Commedia dell’Arte, an important traditional Italian form of theatre that originated in the 16th century. Commedia dell’Arte has inspired artists from Goya to Picasso and even Shakespeare. In particular Sworn became interested in the theatrical device, common in Commedia dell’Arte, of mistaken identity – women dressed as men, masters swapping places with servants – revealed to dramatic, and sometimes comedic, effect.
In this installation, Corin Sworn draws on the characters and narratives of this historical artform to create a work made up of theatrical costumes and props combined with video and audio. The audio retells the story of Martin Guerre, the famous tale of the returning impostor soldier, while the video shows two aerialist acrobats performing along with the storytelling. The two screens showing the video are surrounded by costumes and theatrical props – swords, daggers, fake beards, gloves, strings of pearls, candles, trumpets – all connected to original Commedia dell’Arte scripts.
77-82 Whitechapel High St
London E1 7QX