ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Miami Writer’s Prize 2010 Winner!

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We, the staff at Artlurker, are delighted to announce Annie Hollingsworth as the winner of the 2010 Miami Writer’s Prize for her review of Corwin Hewitt’s current exhibition at Dorsch Gallery (published below).

Announcing their unanimous decision after much deliberation our four judges, Scott Cunnigham, Ruba Katrib, Rene Morales and Gean Moreno have made a special request that the following collective message explaining their selection be published:

We are pleased to announce Annie Hollingsworth as the winner of the Artlurker Miami Writer’s Prize (no relation to Thomas Hollingworth). Since it was so difficult to decide from among all of the notable entries, we would also like to give Autumn Casey an honorable mention.

We feel that Ms. Hollingsworth will make a valuable contribution to Artlurker through her posts. We look forward to reading them, and encourage others to propose texts to this developing yet crucial site for contemporary art dialog in Miami. We also encourage Artlurker to invite Ms. Casey to contribute a set of posts to the blog this summer as a sign of recognition.

It is our sincere hope that this prize helps to enlarge the pool of critical writers community in South Florida.

Thank you judges. This being the prize’s inaugural year the process was not without incident, hitch or delay, however, we are pleased to report that both the entries and the conduct of the judges selected to read them surpassed our every expectation. Gracious thanks to everyone who contributed, especially the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for providing the grant that made this all possible.

Once again we will convene at Locust Projects between 7 and 9 pm next Thursday (the 17th of June) to celebrate year one of the Miami Writer’s Prize. Drinks will be provided, everyone is welcome.

And now, the winning entry…

The Poetics of Inaccessibility: Corin Hewitt at Dorsch Gallery by Annie Hollingsworth.

Drying Flowers with Microwaves, Corin Hewitt’s recent exhibition at Dorsch Gallery, promised a fairly unusual entertainment – the constant physical presence of the artist within the piece. In a series of related projects, of which Drying Flowers is the most recent, Hewitt has explored the basic concept of building a studio in the gallery. He allows viewers to watch him work as he produces images or objects, later shown to complete the piece.

While there are many strands of thought operating within each of these works, it is the room itself that literally and symbolically frames the other subject matter. In Hewitt’s work, the studio room is a camera, Hewitt is the image within the camera, and the openings into the room are apertures. These apertures control the spatial relationships between Hewitt, the viewers, and the gallery, and so the variation in the aperture, one of the most notable differences between works in this series, is a defining detail.

For Seed Stage (New York, 2008), a studio room with all four corners removed, was built in the Whitney Museum’s ground floor gallery. For those willing to step right up and look inside, the head-width openings at the corners offered a fairly generous view into the room, leading to a physical understanding of Hewitt’s actions and the contents of the space. Not only did viewers see photographs in process, they also saw the objects not chosen, the ordering of tools and references, and the changes in the room over time. Hewitt was there too, making photographs, eating the subjects of his photographs, composting materials as they decayed, and constantly rearranging the objects in the room. The audience observed all of this from a voyeuristic position, seeing but not necessarily feeling themselves seen.

Later, in Wall (Seattle, 2010), a small studio space was constructed from drywall scraps removed from the gallery walls. In this case, the construction of the walls was as important as what was contained within them, and their patchwork character was one of the most striking elements of this piece. A side effect of the wall’s partial structure was the dynamic created between inside and outside. In contrast to Seed Stage, this variation of the studio entirely exposed Hewitt’s work. The bodies and gazes of the viewers were so close to him that it must have been uncomfortable at times for everyone. There was none of that mystery that comes from distance.

Drying Flowers with Microwaves lies at the other extreme. Hewitt constructed a high wall at one end of Dorsch Gallery and, instead of an opening in the wall, he allowed only an indirect view into his space through mirrors mounted on the ceiling at various angles. The mirrors, which were partially transparent and slightly curved, were high in the air and set back behind the wall. Because I work at the gallery, I saw the project unfold, I saw the wall built, and I watched Hewitt carry materials into and out of the room. But at the opening I became a viewer like everyone else and what struck me at that moment was the utter impossibility of seeing into the room or physically comprehending its contents.

For an exhibition that promised spectacle – physical presence and a view behind the curtain – the actual experience was the very opposite. The mirrors actually distorted visual angles and spatial relationships, serving more to highlight exclusion than to allow participation, and the wall was, most of all, a barrier. There was nothing at all in the gallery outside, except for a bench to sit on. At times the artist was not even in the space, and the studio-stage was left empty. The photographs would not appear for another week.

This was not the rich, chaotic, poetic performance of the artist in the studio. In the end, it was only the quietness of absence. The dynamic of expectation had been laid open, and viewers who might have been seeking a fantastic display of individual genius and creativity were left with an unsatisfied hunger for something to consume. The other subject matter of the work – the relationships between things, the local flora, and the objects that reappear throughout Hewitt’s work – would not be truly visible until the photographs finally emerged. And even then, the photographs were quiet in contrast to the loudness of nothingness that filled the room on the first night, though in the end they did provide some sense of satisfaction. Ah, finally, something on the wall to look at[.]

The Miami Writer’s Prize 2010 was held in association with Locust Projects and made possible by reader contributions and by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, advancing journalistic excellence in the digital age.

This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.

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Miami Writer’s Prize 2010 Winner!