Michael Corris: Incidents on a Page: Dallas-Venice Dreamscapes: 1976-2020
Online exhibition opening May 2020
The Hawn Gallery is pleased to present an online exhibition, Incidents on a Page: Dallas-Venice Dreamscapes, 1976-2020, of new works by artist, writer and SMU professor of art, Michael Corris. Corris has been active as an artist since the early 1970s, first as a member of the collective Art & Language in New York, and later, as a founding editor of the publications The Fox and Red Herring. Subsequently, he began teaching art criticism and art history in England, and eventually came to Dallas as Chair of the Division of Art at SMU in 2009. His expansive practice is not easily distilled into distinct categories or media, but rather maintains a sustained engagement with and critical analysis of the conditions of production and dissemination of art. Over the course of his career Corris’s work has taken many forms, including but not limited to essayistic writing, graphic design, curation, public intervention, community activism and organization, and education, responding to the needs of a given circumstance or lived situation. Thus, when faced with the necessary closure of the SMU campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—like the many artists whose exhibitions were suddenly put on hold—Corris was quick to adapt the work to a digital environment.
As indicated by the title, Incidents on a Page: Dallas-Venice Dreamscapes:1976-2020 tracks a particular vein of inquiry in Corris’s work—art’s role in the process of a city’s identity formation— through the narrowed focus of his relationship to two cities: Dallas, Texas and Venice, Italy. The exhibition consists of sixteen digitally-designed pieces that mobilize images, polemical texts, excerpts from publications and personal correspondence drawn from the artist’s projects related to the Venice Biennale and the conditions facing Dallas-Ft. Worth-based artists. The exhibition proceeds chronologically from 1976 to the present. It opens with a photograph of an ephemeral critical intervention into the 37th Venice Biennale performed by Corris with other members of Art & Language. The photograph documents a short period of time between the installation of a red banner boldly declaring “WELCOME TO VENICE / THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE BOURGEOISIE ETERNALIZES LOCAL COLOR / ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS EST,” on the outside of the Arsenale, one of the exhibition venues; and its prompt removal on the orders of the Biennale’s president.
Incidents on a Page closes with a photograph of a suitcase containing 200 copies of Dallas Pavilion 2019 in front of a temporary display of promotional posters and maps outside the 58th Venice Biennale. Dallas Pavilion 2019, which can be accessed in full on the artist’s website, was the second iteration of a project highlighting the work of 24 artists, writers, and curators, many living and working in the DFW metroplex. The set of sixteen broadsides and accompanying activities present alternative models for cultural development and commentary that stand in contrast to globally-minded cultural standards set by the civic leaders of Dallas and Venice. Both photographs are presented as digital proofs, with the cut marks and print control strips necessary for proper commercial printing visible around the image. These as with all the work in the exhibition, reference the tools and processes inherent to typography, graphic design and commercial printing processes. Accompanying the exhibition is a brief statement from the artist expanding on his continued use of the typographic sample sheet, as well as an exhibition statement.
An additional essay expanding on the suite of projects referenced in Incidents on a Page: Dallas Venice Dreamscapes: 1976-2020 by Hawn Gallery Project Manager, Allison Klion, is forthcoming.
The execution of this online exhibition was a collaborative effort among Michael Corris; Allison Klion; Assistant Director of Hamon Arts Library, Beverly Mitchell; Stacks Maintenance Manager, Chris Rincon; and Gary M. Torborg, Applications Support in the SMU Office of Information Technology.