Summer McCorkle: des abends

Smack Mellon

92 Plymouth Street

Summer McCorkle, des abends, 2020, installation view. Two-channel HD video, 16mm film and 35 mm black & white slide still film to digital transfer. Running time: 14:07. Image courtesy of Smack Mellon. Photo: Etienne Frossard. Yesterday it rained, washing away the white frostiness on the trees. (excerpt from film script)

Multimedia artist Summer McCorkle works in moving image, photography, and site-specific photo-based installation to play with perception and to reflect on unseen forces at work. Her practice involves engaging with a site—whether a natural setting or manmade space—and making videos or photographs in response to her findings on location. History, artifacts, and architecture at the site inform her investigation, which she then spins into an open-ended narrative that heightens the experience of place. Her stories often explore our relationship to the natural world, inspired by the contrasts of awareness and surprise, banality and wonder that can be experienced in places of expansive peacefulness and beauty.

Filmed in the countryside of Finland and in New Hampshire, Summer McCorkle’s two-channel video piece, des abends, combines a fictional narrative recounted over images of snowy landscapes, with excerpts from Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel ​Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus​ woven throughout. McCorkle wrote and filmed this piece over a period of time while her father grappled with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film resembles a visual poem that explores memory, discovery, loss, and the struggle to comprehend an unfamiliar world. A sense of loneliness pervades, as the female narrator reflects on the surreal effects that the short winter days and harsh landscape can have on the mind. Meanwhile, a male voiceover weaves in and out of her storyline, reciting passages from ​Frankenstein​ in which the creature struggles to understand his surroundings and strives to express his thoughts and feelings. Both of their stories address grief and coming to terms with things we cannot control. Piano music from Robert Schumann's​ Fantasiestücke Op. 12 no. 1, Des Abends ​(1837) is played throughout this piece. The score for the film was composed of excerpts of the piano player learning the piece until they could finally play it in full. These passages and fragments reflect a struggle in the mind between learning and forgetting.


Summer McCorkle

Born and raised in Wisconsin, McCorkle now lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been shown in The National Portrait Gallery in London, the Bronx Museum, Wave Hill in the Bronx, The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA, and various other venues in San Francisco, London, New York, and Guadalajara, Mexico. McCorkle has also participated in artist residencies on a ship in the Arctic Circle, in a historic home at Wave Hill in the Bronx, at a former school at the Arteles Creative Center in Finland, in a former church at Residency Unlimited in Brooklyn, and at a lovely cabin at the MacDowell Colony. She also participated in the Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) Program at the Bronx Museum. Her cinematography work on various films has been shown at Sundance, Untitled-Art Basel, Switzerland; Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris; and various other venues in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. McCorkle earned an MFA from Hunter College and a BA in photography from San Francisco State University.