Discovering Auroch’s Library by Will Corwin at the Clocktower Gallery

by Olivia Murphy

Double Rood (2011) by Will Corwin at the Clocktower Gallery; photo courtesy Tommy Mintz

Under the buildings, the people, and the books of a library, there are but the shelves. It seems like an incidental fact, but just as the fold in a signature of a book constitutes the very materiality of that object, it is the shelves which make the physicality of a library. So it is here, looking at shelves (built in a self-admittedly slapdash manner) that we first encounter what Will Corwin means by Auroch’s Library[1] In fact, it is these very shelves that take up the entirety of the space allotted to Corwin at the Clocktower Gallery in Downtown Manhattan for his one month residency. They stretch across the room, corner to corner, creating what he likes to call a “double rood,” all fashioned out of recycled 2×4’s put together with screws in what can seem like unlikely places. [2] But Corwin knows this. In fact, he sees the entire project as more of a deconstruction of space than a creation within it.

After being confronted with the shelving unit that has become and obstructed the space, the viewer is confronted with the objects that fill them—the contents of the library—which are all small-scale plaster-casts. These objects range from plaster pours, to rectangles, to trapezoidal cubes, to sheer debris. But he really sees it all as debris. His project is essentially to fill in the rood screen—to keep creating these small plaster objects that obstruct the view through the shelves in order to create a non-penetrable wall. The small works become play pieces in the artist’s game of deconstruction—like a game of chess.  [3]

Double Rood (2011) by Will Corwin at the Clocktower Gallery; photo courtesy Tommy Mintz

But it is also hard not to see the creation, as our eyes have been trained to animate almost any structure or object we see. In this way, the plaster-casts move away from their roles in decay and destruction, and become representative of small city scapes, or the different planes of life that we operate on. This could of course be influential of the environs; being atop the 14th floor with a view from Queens to Brooklyn, but it works almost just as well. Auroch’s Library is about remembering. In the context of the pre-historic Auroch, it is using images to record and remember (just as we use books). But it is also about cataloging the rubble that makes up life. And this is what comes through strongest when confronted with the space—or deconstruction of said space. Corwin is forcing the viewer to interact with these shelves and therefore putting them in their own library. The rubble is rubble, but it adapts to each viewer’s personal history to evoke individual feelings.

| Corwin has his residency at Clocktower Gallery through August 18th, and is represented in London by George and Jørgen Gallery.

| All photo’s are by Tommy Mintz


[1]Large pre-historic bovine creatures (related to the domestic cow)

[2]From ‘rood-screen’; a screen used in Anglo-Saxon cathedrals to separate the common people from the Nobility.

[3]On August 10th, Corwin will host a chess match from 6pm -8pm between Grandmaster Robert Hess and International Master Irina Krush, with commentary by Grandmaster Maurice Ashley in conjunction with the installation.

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