Corin Hewitt: Seed Stage

June 17, 2013

Artist Corin Hewitt takes up occupancy in the Whitney's Anne & Joel Ehrenkranz Lobby Gallery in this ongoing installation that is part performance art, part live theater, and part meditation on ideas about still life. Redefining the notion of the artist-in-residence, Hewitt physically moves about the space and engages in the manipulation of materials, both homegrown and store-bought, questioning the autonomy of the art object through a process of its constant transmutation.

Corin Hewitt: There’s a number of things that are changing, or rotting, or growing when I’m not in here. Seed Stage is a room within the room of the Museum. You approach the piece from in the lobby gallery, and it’s visible through four slits on the sides of the room. And on the interior are a variety of systems of storage, preservation, tools for taking action on material that is both inorganic and organic material. There’s a wide variety of activities ranging from actions that I take on material using kitchen utensils, to shop tools, to cooking devices. So I have a stove, I have a printer, I have a series of hot plates, I have a toaster oven, I have a band saw, bread oven, I have canning devices, pressure cookers, and four cameras, and all of those become tools in which I think through the material processes as they’re happening. Both as I take actions on material but also as the material changes on its own. There’s a number of systems down here that I’m working with. One of which is worm bins. They are full of a combination of compost, photographs, and worms that are digesting the two of them. So I’ve just pulled this parsnip out of the roots cellar, and I’m going to make a reproduction of it before I cut it up to eat it. So I use this color wheel as a way of taking color off to model reproductions of things that I both photograph. I often replace the root vegetables or vegetables that I put back. So as I continue to use things, sometimes I will either regrow them or sometimes I will make reproductions of them. I’m constantly in conversation with action as it happens in here, and sometimes the action is geared towards a photograph and sometimes the photograph is just a resulting record of the action. So I want that question when one’s looking at the photographs to be whether or not the photograph is a product of prepared action for the image, or whether the photograph is a documentation of action that was improvised. I’ve created this space with these four apertures as ways of people looking into an image in motion and not having them be physically relating to the space but have them visually relate to it. I think of myself as an actor in a similar way to the multiple other organic things that are in states of change. I was interested in having people come in and watch me watch, and so they have their own experience of looking at the surroundings of what I’m looking at, at the same time that they can’t exactly see what I’m framing on a moment by moment basis.