Corin Sworn

Corin Sworn

Langen Foundation

Corin Sworn, Doubt and Scaffolding, 2014. ©
Corin Sworn, Kendall Koppe, Glasgow and
Natalia Hug Gallery, Cologne.

November 30, 2014

Corin Sworn
Vibrant Matter

September 29, 2014–April 6, 2015

Langen Foundation
Raketenstation Hombroich 1
41472 Neuss
Hours: Daily 10am–6pm

T + 49 2182 5701 15
T + 49 2182 5701 10
info [​at​]

The Langen Foundation is pleased to present a solo show by Canadian-British artist Corin Sworn (b. 1976 in London). Sworn, who lives in Glasgow, was one of the three artists to represent Scotland at the 2013 Venice Biennale and is the winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women 2013–15. 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 lets 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.      

Curator: Christiane Maria Schneider

Press contact: Kathrin Hoernemann, hoernemann [​at​]

Corin Sworn at Langen Foundation
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November 30, 2014

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