Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weavings Performance #2 by Corin Hewitt

Dear Friends: I am obviously distressed by the jury's verdict but I take comfort in knowing that I have done nothing wrong and that I have the enduring support of my family and friends. I believe in the fairness of the judicial system and remain confident that I will ultimately prevail. - Martha Stewart, March 5, 2004

Reading the materials list from Corin Hewitt's
Weavings Performance #2 one might start conjuring the image of a una-bomber type hidden away in a shack (in Portland? Maybe outside of Portland), assembling his devices partly by plan and partly by instinct. The "four turkey feather balls" or "photograph of Ed and Nancy Kienholz's Sollie 17" on the list were items added obviously to aid with the insanity defense.

Corin Hewitt might actually share working habits of such a recluse. He constructs a work space, locks himself away in it for days on end, works with a variety of tools (some not conceived for the tasks at hand), and creates objects which are partly about transformation. Only, if Hewitt's objects exploded, you'd probably start laughing while wiping the beat-juice stained pasta from your forehead. He uses mostly food stuffs; fruits, vegetables, pastas, juices, and makes sculptures out of it. He ingests his material and spits it out, cooks it, lets it rot, photographs it, paints it, leaves it alone, or, as the book's title suggests, weaves it. A FANTASTIC new book (yes I was shouting) from J+L called Weavings Performance #2 is itself an artist book documenting (maybe not) one of Hewitt's performances.

While in the midst of his performances, Hewitt has many mimetic devices (4X5, 35mm, polaroid and digital cameras) at hand to shoot the still lifes he creates within his studio. Not so much for strict documentation as his polaroid pictures sometimes appear within the still lifes not only complicating the picture plane but our sense of image purpose. Is this a procedural? (no). Is this even a representation of the performance? (I doubt it, as a viewer could not look at this stuff so closely). It is an object put together with intuition much like the piece itself - hunter/gatherer-style.

I haven't seen one of Hewitt's performances but from what I read, his constructed studio/workspace is only accessible for the viewer through hinged trap doors and tiny windows, through which you can see him working. These set perspectives (one is described as a lens making the box into a metaphoric camera obscura) would provide our human viewpoint where the images he shot which make up this book are mostly close-up and reductionist. We have little sense of scale, nor lay of the land around the studio. Our faces are thrust into his creations while Hewitt, the performer, stays mostly out of the way. Or perhaps this is his vantage point we are seeing, through the looking glass peering outward. His presence appears in only four pictures - three really, in the fourth he is felt by the blue flame of a torch which is burning the meristems on a head of purple cauliflower (or, at least it looks like cauliflower - could be a severely rotten piece of fruit).

I keep thinking of Fischli and Weiss. Art-making is a serious business so let there be whimsy. A half-eaten plasticine apple sits next to its real, also half eaten, counterpart. Pasta is woven into a partial basket (or is it an Aztec toupée?). Throw some discarded shavings, some straw and a torn up photo into the garbage - photograph it as a discovery. Pay attention, just putting a 5 litre pot on the shelf has potential. As Beckett said, "To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now."

The book is pitch perfect from the layout to the bellyband that graces the cover. Each book is unique, the bellybands were stained by hand with dye made from cherries and cabbages at the printer's facility in Korea. Three inserts are hidden away in a flap on the back cover board. An essay by Marisa C. Sanchez, a conversation between Hewitt and Michael Brenson, and a materials list broken into two categories: Local and Historical. After sitting with Weavings for while, you'll never look at your compost heap the same again.