Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trudy Benson review of Corin Hewitt at the Whitney

Trudy Benson
23 November 2008

Corin Hewitt's work has been described as borrowing from postminimalist and performance forebearers such as Gordon Matta-Clark and Bruce Nauman in its blending of performance, photography, and installation. His work also deals with the themes of transformation; preservation; the cyclical stages of growth and decay, and life and death; and the relationship of part to whole. Seed Stage, currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, serves as a theater for transformation. Hewitt has created a studio within the Museum as a nucleus in the gallery space Seed Stage occupies. Through the corners of the walls housing Hewitt's workspace we can catch only a small glimpse of the work that he executes live for three days of every week for three months during museum hours.
Hewitt asserts "What I need is here, and if not, I can make it here". What we cannot see as viewers, pivotal to his process, is the root celler that has been installed beneath the very floor Hewitt stands. He has several tools: some for practical use and some for aesthetic construction, but the way he uses these tools overlap and blur between practicality and aesthetic outcomes. He puts up preserves, paints and blowtorches food products and prints out color schemes – all to eventually photograph. These photographs are gradually displayed on the outer wall of the gallery space (which is set up like a ziggurat).
The temporal element of Seed Stage is really what fascinated me. His theme of transformation leads into the theme of endlessness. His process could recreate itself as simulacra hypothetically forever. Photographs of photographs posted inside the studio and outside in the gallery. Time captured (literally) on the film of a camera for however long the aperture is allowed to stay open. Light contained as time in these photographs resonates with the internal containment of the artist's studio inside of the gallery space. Both artist and living roots contained inside of the museum establishment were to be present in real time rather than in the afterwards that is usually present in pieces other than performance. Although viewed through small openings, the voyeuristic quality of the piece came apart when the Hewitt made eye contact with me and returned my smile as he went about his work.

No comments:

Blog Archive