The Glasgow-based artist Corin Sworn has been announced as the fifth winner of the bi-annual Max Mara Art Prize for Women. The prize, run in collaboration with London's Whitechapel Gallery, has become increasingly high profile with Laure Prouvost, who picked up Max Mara award in 2011, going on to win last year's Turner Prize.
For Sworn, apart from the press and glory, it means a six-month fully funded Italian residency. Unlike other art prizes, The Max Mara award is based an artist's submission about the work they would produce in Italy, if given the chance. A four-strong judging panel devises a short-list of three to five artists - who have to be UK-based and yet to have a solo survey exhibition - and Sworn out-paced rival presentations from Beatrice Gibson, Melanie Gilligan, Judith Goddard and Philomene Pirecki to pick up this year's award.
Sworn, who uses drawings, video and installation in her works, has an interest in how we construct stories and narratives from fragments of sometimes random information. Foxes, a film and installation, was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2013.
Sworn's Max Mara funded project will look at the relationship between Commedia dell'Arte and Italian cinema. She will spend three months in Rome, before moving to the newly restored Museo dell'Arte Contemporanea in Naples and on to the Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa, home to one of the oldest artist residency programmes in Europe. Which all sounds rather lovely. Sworn's piece will be shown at both the Whitechapel and Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia some time next year.
'She is a vivid storyteller,' explains Whitechapel director Iwona Blazwick, 'and the judges were swept away by her proposal inspired by the 16th century Commedia dell'Arte travelling theatre troupes woven together with oral histories. We can't wait to see the impact of the residency on her scripts and filmmaking.'
For Sworn, it means a level of support that most young artists, without the backing of one of the ‘mega’ galleries, can only dream of. 'One of the wonderful aspects to the Prize is all the people who are there to support the research with you,' says Sworn. 'I think this will allow me to surpass my usual ways of working. With young galleries, it still feels as though everyone is helping out and supporting you and your work, but the nature of what you can produce is very different.'