Corrina Goutos is reframing the entirely human disposition of having an anthropocentric mindset by reminding us that are living in a material world, one in which splendour and object-relations will outlive us all. From Upstate New York, to Berlin, and now Hamburg, the jewellery and object artist demonstrates, through pre-industrial artisanal handicraft, and innovative repurposing, the beauty in what is customarily considered mass-produced kitsch and post-consumerist waste. Corrina, the (self-titled) anthrosmith, chats to us for the first time about all things object; from plastic Mac’s and shell encrusted elephants to the lost-wax casting of METAL.
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Hey Corrina, what’s been on your highlight reel of 2021?
Not much into the reel game, so for 2021 I can’t say! 2022, I am quite into tiny house tours with all the multi-functionality hacks being revealed!
When I seen those Lit Clips on your Instagram, I was reminded of this bizarre fascination I have with vibrant translucent perspex objects. I think it stems from my school’s chunky old Mac PCs, or maybe, stained glass softened the ennui of weekly conscripted Catholicism? Are there any materials that bring you back to your childhood?
Definitely. I share your affinity for the perspex Mac monitors.  I remember sneaking peaks at them in the 5th grade room and being banned from touching them until I entered the class.  What an enticing object! It filled my head with fantasies about the future and portals I may soon have access to. My affinity for shells is strongly tied to my childhood as well; the souvenir shops I was dragged away from at beach vacation destinations with my parents.  Terribly kitschy, tiny shell encrusted elephant figures and jewellery boxes lined with glaring red felt.  I thought they were totally royal and when I finally got my hands on some, I imagined they were my own uncovered deep-sea treasures.  I now see these artefacts of my youth greatly informed my artistic visual language.
Have you noticed any quirks unique to design that differ between Europe and the US?
Yes. I think European design has a refinement that American design does not.  Of course, Scandinavia and its impressive support for the field of arts and crafts has made a wave of minimal, functional and simply clever design that has become contagious across Europe.  American heritage for handcraft was in many ways not preserved amidst the Industrial Revolution like it was in Europe. Meaning today there is lesser interest, and perceived value in bringing the country’s historical design authorship into modernity. This results in more hasty, commercial or DIY versions of traditional craft.
I enjoy this deconstructed approach in some ways, just as I can appreciate a sacredly traditional approach to making.  I feel the paradoxical pull between the two in my work, as an influence of my environment, added richness to my practice that I would not have got in just one place or another.
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I watched a segment from a few years ago that shows you making Alu-Pancakes, literal food for thought in the information age. If we are what we eat, would you agree the same is true conflating consumerism and the planet?
(Laughs) That’s an interesting proposition indeed, in short, yes!  We are an all-consuming species dredging ahead on a linear path of commodification without sufficient replenishment.  We are the definition of degradation in the most literal sense.  The result being that we are depleting our species and slowly rendering ourselves obsolete.
Considering the elements of Semi-Slug, Kitsch-Sticks, and Self-Care Warfare, would you deem your works utopian or dystopian, or is that a bit anthropocentric in this respect?
I think that is a bit anthropocentric, indeed.  I am imagining a world in which these materials have the chance to shed themselves of the exploitation they endured to become a commodity for human consumption.  Here, the materials co-mingle and transform themselves. Nature has, of course, no garbage. She only has resources. When something is not valuable for one species- there is another eager to snatch it up. So, in a way it is a fruitful utopia for the material world, on the other side a possible dystopia for a more rigid species, the human being.
If you could visit Thrown-Away, what would you bring back?
I would mine some future materials there that have been busy fusing away with one other.  And I would certainly keep my eyes peeled for the previously mentioned shell-encrusted elephant that my mother tossed all those years back, shattering my kitschy kid dreams.
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What is the vetting process for an object being deemed fitting for your Material Library?
That’s a hard one to describe in words, as it is something of a foreign language, [of] the [material] things, and that I communicate in.  There are many theories about hoarders that explain them as having a high sensitivity to “the call of things”, sometimes called “the pressure of the strings” which makes it hard for them to distinguish the self from the material world. Today, in a very material-oriented world, be it notifications, or shoes, we are all entangled to different extremes with non-human materials which affect our body’s vital responses.
I would say I have a higher-than-average ability to hear the call of things, without losing my sense of subjectivity.  Rather, the things become bookmarks for certain fleeting, sensory experiences my human[ity] would like to savour. So, when an object exudes a certain vibrant call towards me, it is deemed worthy of further investigation and is placed in my Material Library.  Here, it sometimes loses its vibrancy in the context of the library. While other times, it hums its way into the spotlight of the collection, calling me to engage with, and make sense of, its mysterious vital materiality.
On viewing your NJAL Not So Basics collection, a didactic refrain from my kidulthood, “quit playing with your food” popped into my head. The earphone wires deftly wrapped round jewels, a considered act of adult loom banding. Then I found Glitter Bumble Castle World. Do you feel like a sense of play is important to maintain throughout life, and is this something lacking in our logged on and locked in world?
Very much so. In fact, I think it is our greatest resource as creative beings to foster.  In my artistic practice, I realised that I allow myself to do all kinds of things my real self can’t or doesn’t do.  In my practice, I have the freedom to break rules, to be messy, to be stubborn, unstructured or aloof.  Of course, I schedule these modes into my life. So, in a way, they are still existing within a controlled framework, but this feeding of my kid and my adult, in my daily practice gives me the balance I need to maximise my creativity. I recommend anyone question the censor, that pop-ups in their minds, that say they should, or shouldn’t, do something they are itching to do. Of course, given that it doesn’t limit the freedom of anyone else. It just might be what liberates you from a blockage your kid has been carrying all too long.
Which holds greater significance in your art’s creation; the tactile or the visual, and has the intervention of social distancing shifted your opinion in any way?
I am very oriented on the tactical world. Pre-pandemic that would have been a sufficient answer for me but today it’s not quite so simple.  I had a period where painting was my biggest passion.  In little time, it became a dull, even mathematical, experience for me.  I was under-stimulated by the emphasis on the visual, and the lack of physical engagement with the materials made me restless.
Jewellery was the rebellion to the rules of distancing that always existed within the fine arts. Be it painting, sculpture or anything of the likes. I was for a do-touch mentality.  Today I have adapted to some of the challenges of conveying tactility in a 2-D context, out of necessity, and I certainly don’t think it has hindered my process but expanded it to some degree. Nonetheless, I hunger for the day my objects fall in the hands of curious excavators and still passes the test as a visual enigma that exists in actuality; like a 3-D Photoshop intervention.
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As a proponent of ancient handiwork techniques, is there a particular craft of yours where you find joy stemming from the process more than the finished article?
I was exploring lost wax casting for some time, the first found examples of which are already 6,000 years old.  The adaption I had developed was very loose and required me to make decisions hastily as the metal rapidly cooled and changed properties. I became so filled with adrenaline and trained my eye and body in a way to adapt to the material properties.  It was a liberating and engaging process that gave my work a positive break from the rigidity I was bound by before.  Still, most of the work was shit, and this gave me great respect for the efforts our ancestors put in to make art pieces or objects of worship.  A few gems came from this series, but in the end, it was the hacking of massive scrap objects, the glowing molten metal, and the hyper-attentiveness to the material, that fuelled my fire to keep at it.
In Souvenir Planet Earth, there is a corroded lighter, wrought inoperative with the flint removed, and the body decomposed, hulk green with envy. It’s made me think for the first time that there must be ideas, fragile masculinity, inequality, the Anthropocene, that might be better put across through acts of de-creation than brand spanking new construction. Does your work align at all with this notion?
Absolutely. For me it was an object loaded with ideas of the time, all of those you mentioned and more.  It required no intervention, just the stage, to say the things it called out to me from the grass lot next to the methadone-distribution centre where I found it. There this already-artefact lay; fading in the sun until its skin reached a green just eerie enough to evoke images of aliens.  But it is not yet an estranged thing, more a vision of movements on their way out of the spotlight.  I see it as a telling future fossil, which, almost literally, embodies such trivial values of our global culture like the overemphasis on sex, the omnipresence of sexist systems, and the mass-circulation of unachievable beauty-ideals.  This lighter is the objectification and mass-consumption of both human and non-human materials; from tinder profiles to single-use packaging.
Also, imagining the steps that were taken to bring this object into existence is truly strange. The gasoline, that was once sea-life, extracted from the earth. Plastic beads were exploded. Magic fire sticks were inserted. Designers and manufacturers made various decisions ensuring the whole process was worth the investment. A massive amount was produced and then transported, with a huge amount of other junk, until it arrived at the kiosk in Hamburg, where it then landed in the hand of the addict, him/herself estranged from the system, who discarded it amusingly by throwing it into the road, where it is run over by a car, shattering it, flinging it into the grass, where it camouflages, until one day, a material savant, of some sort, hears its story and intervenes; just one actor in this object’s on-going transformation.
I loved your collaboration with visual artist Barbara Lüdde on I Don’t Want It In My Body. Do you plan on collaborating with any creatives in the near future?
Indeed. I have some exciting stuff in the pipeline for which I hope to share more details soon. I am looking forward to exploring more deeply the intersection of digital and analogue processes, and I have some interesting speculative archaeology coming up for you too!
Your parting words in an interview with The Altamont Enterprise were “let your kids dream so big.” I’m not sure about my unborn child but I genuinely felt inspired. Do you have any more advice to help get us through 2022?
I think nobody knows better than himself, or herself, what they need this year to keep their heads above water.  So, I would say, if you’re needing change, stop telling yourself: you should, and start telling yourself: you get to. Your inner kid will be much more apt to comply and you will be much more in tune to your needs than when you’re trying desperately to jump on the self-improvement train of someone else’s design.
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