Champollion is a collection of small and medium-sized cast sculptures, in lead, plaster and resin that offer up a glossary of found and constructed symbols: the title refers to Jean-Francois Champollion, decipherer of the hieroglyphic language; a pictographic/ideographic and phonetic form of communication that the sculptor sees as a model for the construction of his own objects as both images and texts. The accompanying catalog offers a selection of Corwin’s interviews with archeologists Colin Renfrew and Yonas Beyene on the origins of symbolism, drawing and form. The organization and installation of the gallery loosely imitates a celestial ship carrying Corwin’s sculptures and the spirit of the father of Egyptology, Champollion, across the sky.
“Champollion, is a presentation in a Bark—a ship that would guide a pharaoh on their interstellar afterworld journey. Set up for this exhibition, Corwin’s solar vessel is on a burial voyage for the Father of Egyptology. Jean-François Champollion (an original Hacker) who freed the hidden narrative held captive by poor translation. He deciphered hieroglyphics and opened history.”
– David Goodman
Corwin’s sculptures draw on the pre-modern history of assemblage in order to coagulate information in to a distinct body. As opposed to the digitization processes of today, wherein information and knowledge are conflated into the abstract “memory” of a device, Corwin’s work is an amalgamation of cavities, creating a network of meaning through pocked symbols.
Corwin defines objects by means of collection, not unlike the collection and aggregations of symbols we use in order to communicate with our thumbs via iPhone. In this way, Champollion is an exhibition of future artifacts from a renaissance of the hieroglyph.
Corwin has had an interview program on Clocktower Radio for the past seven years and spent this past winter in Ethiopia interviewing artists, musicians and archeologists. One of the main foci of this trip was to see and study the Ark culture of Ethiopia and to discuss and research the earliest hominin ancestors whose remains have been discovered in the northeast desert of the country. His sculptures are scaled so as to directly involve the viewer as a participant in the viewing experience, and previous projects, at the historic Clocktower Gallery; the Staten Island Ferry terminal; South Street Seaport; and Puccs Gallery in Budapest have allowed viewers to physically interact with the work.
The exhibitions Cyborg at Zurcher Gallery and Devotion at Catinca Tabacaru, curated by Will Corwin in the fall of 2015 were complementary projects meant to explore the means by which artists are depicting the human entity within the modern technological/ecological/ and sociological context, in the former, and the original use-value of contemporary artworks placed in a liturgical setting, in the latter. Champollion brings together the lead pieces by the artist from those exhibitions, and the series of eight multicolored cast plaster works from his collaboration with cartographer Neil Greenberg, The Great Richmond—an interactive game-based sculpture on view at the Staten Island Ferry terminal in 2014-15. In addition there are several new lead, wood/plaster and resin works.