Corin Sworn: The Spectre of Breath

Fascinated by the “erratic meetings and schisms” of histories, images, and artefacts, Canadian artist Corin Sworn builds her research into “scripts,” sometimes in the form of objects and propositions in a gallery, sometimes as characters and narratives in a film. The script in Lens Prism, a fragmented soliloquy delivered by an unidentified man to an empty theatre, reflects on a common paradox of representation: that we express ourselves more readily by appropriating pre-existing narratives — here from literature, theory, and film — than by finding the words for our own experiences. In The Foxes, first shown in the Scottish pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, the script, prompted by a collection of slides taken in Peru thirty years earlier by the artist’s father, leads to a consideration of the legibility of photographs and the shifting nature of the narratives we create from them. Finally, the feature-length script for The Coat, made with fellow Emily Carr University alumnus Tony Romano, uses an ingenious subtitling strategy to combine the directors’ response to interviews with migrants in Canada and Italy with Sworn’s research on the commedia dell’arte, in a loose adaptation of Aristophanes’ play The Birds shot in Calabria.

Lens Prism | Corin Sworn/Great Britain-France 2010. 15 min. DCP
The Foxes | Corin Sworn/Great Britain-Canada-Peru 2013. 18 min. DCP
The Coat | Tony Romano, Corin Sworn/Great Britain-Canada-Italy 2016. 58 min. DCP

Stills courtesy of the artist and Koppe Astner, Glasgow