Corinthian Temple (Plastic Cups)


Sara Cwynar ( American, 1985 )

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General Description

The work of Sara Cwynar combines the obsessive materiality of a “hoarder” with the trompe-l’oeil effects of studio photography. Utilizing her vast collection of stock images and everyday items—books, boxes, clothing, dolls, plastic cups, etc.—Cwynar creates arrangements of kitsch objects in the studio that are then rephotographed, reprinted, and scanned to intentionally confuse or complicate a straightforward reading of the image.

Corinthian Temple (Plastic Cups), employs a technique whereby the artist enlarges an image, in this case a black and white tower of plates, plastic cups, and fruit, and then reprints it on several pages and reassembles it with orange duct tape. This collage then becomes the backdrop for further embellishment and experimentation within the studio. Here the artist seems to conflate her kitsch dishware monument with a Corinthian temple—the most ornate of classical architecture—flattening not only physical and representational space, but history as well. This process of flattening space, time, and meaning within the photograph is further hinted at by Cwynar in her series’ title, Flat Death, a reference to critic Roland Barthes’ influential text Camera Lucida. Cwynar’s interest in playing with the representation of actual, physical space within photographic space relates to similar concerns being explored by a generation of young photographers (often female) including Michele Abeles [2013.23], Leslie Hewitt [2012.4.2.A-B], Yuki Kimura [2012.52.1], Erin Shirreff [2013.24.A-E], and Sara VanDerBeek [2010.12].

Adapted from

Gabriel Ritter, DMA unpublished material, 2014.