Storyteller wins Whitechapel Gallery’s Max Mara Prize to make film of street theatre

Corin Sworn

Corin Sworn - Credit: Whitechapel Gallery

Storyteller Corin Sworn has won the Whitechapel Gallery’s prestigious Max Mara Art Prize for Women which gives her six months in Italy making a dramatic film and installation about renaissance street theatre.

The bi-annual award promotes women artists who have not had a solo survey exhibition which gives them time and space across any medium to develop their themes.

Corin, 37, who received the award at a ceremony at the Italian Embassy, was chosen for her proposal inspired by the Italian 16th century travelling theatre troupes.

“Corin is a vivid storyteller,” Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick said. “The judges were swept away by her proposal inspired by the 16th century Italian Commedia dell’Arte travelling theatre troupes woven together with oral histories.

“We can’t wait to see the impact of her scripts and film-making and anticipate a dramatic installation at the Whitechapel Gallery.”

Corin gets a six-month Italian residency for her project which gives her major solo exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery and Italy’s Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia in 2015.

She spends three months in Rome in the diverse art scene studying the link between Commedia dell’Arte and Italian cinema, before going to Naples where the acting troupes flourished through street theatre, then on to Venice studying in the libraries And archives.

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Her winning proposal for the prize drew from the history and elaborate costumes of the Commedia dell’Arte, reviving the improvised theatrical comedies performed by acting troupes who toured Italy from the 16th century onwards.