May 2, 2020 § Leave a comment
MY CONGLOMERATE FAMILY
“A conglomerate is a sedimentary rock composed of many different kinds of rocks naturally bound together. A family, just like a rock, can be composed of many parts.
I’ve always thought and felt that in death and raw catastrophe there is no place for metaphor. A small volcanic eruption like the nightly displays of lava which appear as the sun sets on the island of Stromboli are often likened to a coffee percolator, as the eruptions are so harmless and predictable. It is known as the ‘lighthouse of the Mediterranean’ for its daily beacon of molten red, but when Mount Pele erupted in 1903, within minutes 28,000 people died in the city of Saint Pierre on the island of Martinique. In this, what language is useful – only incomprehensible grief, memorials after the catastrophe, and if appropriate, reflection on the reason for mass death, in that case – namely that though the volcano was increasingly violent and erratic in the days leading up to the eruption, local politicians refused to let people evacuate from the island due to upcoming elections they hoped to win. There were only three survivors of the eruption in Saint Pierre – a cobbler, a convict saved by the thick walls of his cell and a young girl.
Around the world, the potentially catastrophic eruption of the virus had been rumbling and worse for months. Wuhan, Lombardy, Tokyo Bay, Washington State, off the coast of California, New Rochelle, London. Countless simultaneous tremors signalling a violent eruption was coming closer. With one ear to the ground, listening to this seismic horror unfold, I feel rage. Adrenaline courses through my veins, it pumps through my body like liquid fire. One government after another ignoring the signs, ignoring the tsunami of death that has travelled incrementally across the surface of the earth as easily as day shifting to night. As easily as flying across the Atlantic into summer daybreak, where the sunrise extends for hours. But this is not beautiful like a sunrise. This is monstrous, needless, mass death.
I read a very helpful article that said during the first few weeks of a lock down, it is ok if your mind doesn’t work, if you can’t think, can’t be productive, can only focus on very simple tasks. This is because the world has changed, that everything is now different. It explains during this period of adjustment, you may find you can only focus on doing everything you can to secure the safety and health of everyone you love, and that once their safety and security are in place, that you will be surprised to find that your mind slowly comes back to life, becomes more capable of complex thoughts and responses.
I keep trying to find the right words. How to articulate something so horrific. A few doors down, a paediatric doctor is sick at home; in a retirement home up the block people are dying; my brother in law is a carer and has been told he can’t bring masks to work because they are not ‘approved’ but no other masks are provided. Across the ocean, my younger sister is indefinitely locked in her apartment in Brooklyn; near my elementary school on the field in Central Park where we had our annual Field Day, there is now a field hospital run by homophobic zealots; and my mother in Maine who is totally dependent on a small team of carers, is in the middle of a deep health crisis, very far from me.
Is that why in my mind I keep ending up in the corner of the living room where I grew up, sitting on the floor by my parents record player. Dappled light filters through the window, vivid green plants with long boughs and shoots fill the window sill, planters crowd the floor. I am playing my parents records – Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell. But the record that is on is scratched, it keeps jumping back to the same place – not safe, not safe, not safe…
One piece for the show that would have opened this week at Patricia Fleming, Glasgow is called My Conglomerate Family. It is a watercolour of a collection of rocks, each rock is a stand in for someone that is part of my family by choice. Then, when I made it – before the pandemic, I had been imagining and trying to conjure more expansive ways of thinking about my own family, from very deep time family lines drawn in the calcium carbonate of our teeth and bones, to more immediate alternative families based not only on blood, but on how we choose each other, how we love each other, who and how we support one another. Conglomerates held together by feeling. And now, in some ways, we are part of an international conglomerate, intrinsically bound together by the virus. Invisible glue, holding everyone together in a shared catastrophe.
I hope we can be bound together by our urgent sense of humanity.”
Ilana Halperin’s practice of intertwining intimate geologic narratives with human histories and lived experience is reflected in this body of work that combines drawing, photography and sculpture. Through exploring geologic timelines – both ancient and newly formed – Halperin uncovers deep and personal connections between people and the places they inhabit.
As Halperin has expressed, “Rocks are really the first immigrants”. As an immigrant herself – a New Yorker who now lives and works between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute – Halperin views her own movements as a fleeting, yet significant continuation of a much older migratory tradition. In turn Halperin’s work exists as an evolving embodiment of geologic and human migration.
Drawing and painting are constant studio-based occupations for Halperin. In this new watercolour series each rock is a portrait of either herself or a loved one. As she describes “One piece for the exhibition is called ‘My Conglomerate Family’. It is a watercolour of a collection of rocks, each rock is a stand in for someone that is part of my family by choice. Then, when I made it – before the pandemic, I had been imagining and trying to conjure more expansive ways of thinking about my own family, from very deep time family lines drawn in the calcium carbonate of our teeth and bones, to more immediate alternative families based not only on blood, but on how we choose each other, how we love each other, who and how we support one another. Conglomerates held together by feeling.”
Halperin often uses 35mm and 120mm film to capture the process of making and to record fieldwork in remote geologic locations. The new photographic works ‘Sakurajima (October 31st, 2019) I-V’ were taken at Sakurajima Volcano on the Japanese island of Kyushu, during fieldwork, not far from where volcanologists Maurice and Katia Krafft were killed during a pyroclastic eruption of Mount Unzen in 1991. This series of photographs acknowledges the myriad ways in which the pioneering couple have continually inspired the artist, who has been following in their volcanic footsteps for over 20 years.
In ‘Excerpts from the Library’, a collection of 800 million year old layered mineral ‘books’ of mica, sourced in a legendary tourmaline mine in New England and in Inverness-shire, serve both as a series of sculptural trace fossils, and as a record of the artist’s journey back and forth across the Atlantic. Halperin’s sculptures are experimental in nature, often mirroring earth processes through their formation. As such, the outcome is never certain.
Ilana Halperin – Excerpts from the Library / 1 – 24 May 2020 / Online Exclusive
February 18, 2020 § Leave a comment
Contemporary Visual Arts Programme 2020 – Ilana Halperin: There Is A Volcano Behind My House
4 April – 31 May, 2020
Performances: 12.15pm 27 April (during Glasgow International) & 2 May
“The first time I visited Mount Stuart, many years ago, I was struck by the deep geologic nature of the house, from the core samples of marble which travelled up from Sicily – immigrant rocks settled in their new home; to the petrified seas found in the fossil rich limestone of the vast stairwell in the Great Hall. It was as if the house itself was an Anthropocene phenomena, among the many geologic wonders one could encounter on the island.” Ilana Halperin
Mount Stuart Trust is delighted to announce a solo exhibition by Ilana Halperin this spring. The artist will create works inspired by the geology of the island of Bute where she now spends much of her time. Situated throughout the house, four distinct yet contiguous series of sculptures, works on paper and textile will reference ‘immigrant’ minerals embedded in the fabric of the building, as well as geologic phenomena found on the island. Halperin describes this work as a constellation combining personal, poetic and corporeal responses to the house and island.
Carefully situated in the heart of the house, Halperin’s watercolours form the key and the foundation to her works at Mount Stuart. Increasingly complex in form and palette, they represent the processes of formation, erosion and growth throughout the years and the seasons. They include references to the Suidhe, the volcano of the exhibition title, which sits behind Halperin’s home on Bute, and the Highland Boundary Fault Line, which bisects the island, and binds two migratory landmasses together.
The exhibition references the materials found within the built fabric of Mount Stuart, for instance the shimmering Mica on the ceiling of the Drawing Room. Sourcing mica which ranges in age from 400 – 800 hundred million years old from Maine, Massachusetts and near Contin in Invernesshire, Halperin will exhibit laser etched ‘books’ of Mica alongside research, archival material and contemporary critique. She explores the relationship between industrial and natural processes and reflects on the heritage of the Victorian brick works, which once operated on the island. Continuing her work with the longstanding Fontaines Pétrifiantes de Saint-Nectaire in France, she has submitted a series of eroded bricks and Victorian drainage tiles to the same process that forms stalactites in caves, or indeed in more domestic settings such as within the Mount Stuart Boathouse. The relationship between deep time, memory and the domestic, is echoed in the display of these objects throughout the various spaces in the house.
Textile, through the weaving of warp and weft, is constructed, like geology, of strata. Halperin has worked in conjunction with island-based designer and producer Bute Fabrics to make two textile works to be displayed in the domestic interior of the Mount Stuart Family and Horoscope Bedrooms. The works are woven on a jacquard loom and make a gesture to temporarily replace a lost historical fabric work. The textile works make homage to the particular colour palette of the island, the shades of sea, rock and hill.
It is important to note that Ilana Halperin’s works are discreetly autobiographical in nature. Her exhibition works hold a story, enhanced in her performative talks. To this end, she will undertake two performative talks in a special island location combining the voices of her personal volcanic field notes with material from the Mount Stuart Archive. For these performances Halperin will be joined by Andrew Patrizio, Professor of Scottish Visual Culture at the University of Edinburgh.
Ilana Halperin was born in New York in 1973. She is currently based between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute. Her work explores the relationship between geology and daily life. She combines fieldwork in diverse locations – on volcanoes in Hawaii, caves in France, geothermal springs in Japan – and in museums, archives and laboratories, with an active studio-based practice. Her work has featured in solo exhibitions worldwide including Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité, Artists Space in New York and the Manchester Museum. She was the Inaugural Artist Fellow at National Museums Scotland and Artist-Curator of Geology for Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. The Library of Earth Anatomy, a permanent commission at The Exploratorium in San Francisco opened in 2017. Schering Stiftung, Berlin has published a monograph on her work entitled New Landmass. Currently, she is exploring the Karst landscapes of Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan for The Rock Cycle, an interlinked project between Akiyoshidai Natural History Museum, Akiyoshidai International Artist Village and Pier Arts Centre Orkney. Her recent solo exhibition Minerals of New York opened at Leeds Arts University, and then toured to The Hunterian in 2019.
Her upcoming exhibition at Patricia Fleming Gallery Excerpts from the Library runs during Glasgow International Festival 24 April to 10 May as part of its Across The City programme. Excerpts From The Library and There Is A Volcano Behind My House bring together an expansive new body of work by the artist on both sites.
Halperin is represented by Patricia Fleming, Glasgow.
Image Credit: Ilana Halperin, ‘Excerpts from the Library’, 2020 (detail) 400 million year old book of laser etched mica. Made in collaboration with Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Studio. Courtesy of the artist and Patricia Fleming, Glasgow.
December 12, 2019 § Leave a comment
The Rock Cycle (Yamaguchi)
A cross-disciplinary project between Yamaguchi and Scotland
自然科学 × 現代美術 リサーチとアウトリーチによる
Curated by Naoko Mabon
Through the lens of Yamaguchi and Scotland, The Rock Cycle (Yamaguchi) considers new ways of imagining our relationship to the natural world. This project draws inspiration from the rock cycle, a geological concept that describes how rocks change from one type to another through geologic time. Each chapter within the project represents a different stage within the cycle, though a subtle artistic intervention introduces the idea of ‘life’ – or a biological stage in the process. Through the project we ask: what might shift in our understanding of and relationship with Akiyoshidai, and with geology and geological time as a whole, if we imagine ourselves both poetically and materially as part of the rock cycle? For example, can we begin to consider ourselves as part of a deep time calcium carbonate family tree – from Fusulina, to coral, to our bones and teeth? Building on a two-week research residency in 2018 hosted by Akiyoshidai International Art Village, Glasgow-based artist Ilana Halperin has developed a new cross-disciplinary project between Scotland and Japan with Scotland-based curator Naoko Mabon. The exhibition will tour to the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney in 2020. There, Halperin’s new body of work featuring material unique to Yamaguchi and to the geological and archaeological context of Orkney will be exhibited, in conversation with thematically resonant works by Yamaguchi-based artists Yoshihisa Nakano and Keijiro Suzuki.
The Rock Cycle (Yamaguchi) is an official event of ‘Japan Season of Culture in the UK’, and an affiliate programme of ‘UK in JAPAN 2019-20’.
Installation views at Akiyoshi-dai Museum of Natural History and Akiyoshidai International Art Village
Photo credit: Michihiro Ota
Akiyoshi-dai Museum of Natural History
Akiyoshidai International Art Village
‘Karstar’ The Mine-Akiyoshidai Karst Plateau Geopark Center
SCOTTISH EXHIBITION AND PUBLIC EVENT: Autumn 2020 at Pier Arts Centre, Orkney
Akiyoshidai Academic Centre, Yamaguchi University | Research Laboratory of Professor Yoshihisa Nakano, Department of Art, Faculty of Education, Yamaguchi University
Akiyoshi-dai Museum of Natural History | Akiyoshidai International Art Village | ‘Karstar’ The Mine-Akiyoshidai Karst Plateau Geopark Center | N3 ART Lab | Yamaguchi Institute of Contemporary Arts | Matsu no Yu, Kibetani Onsen, Shimane | Meizengama Pottery Studio | Ando Quarry Ltd., | Naganobori Copper Mine Cultural Exchange Centre | Nagasawa Clay Ltd., | Chijimatsu Washi Workshop | Mine Seiryo High School | be Art Shop | Michiko Fukuda, Freelance Project Manager | Takashi Murakami, Vice President, Speleological Society of Japan | Pier Arts Centre, Orkney | Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Studio, Dundee | Graphical House, Glasgow | Patricia Fleming, Glasgow
Mine City | Mine City Board of Education | British Council
Akiyoshidai Academic Centre, Yamaguchi University | Creative Scotland, Edinburgh | The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, London | Pier Arts Centre, Orkney
July 4, 2019 § Leave a comment
Opening at The Hunterian on Friday, July 12th!
Ilana Halperin is an artist who lives and works between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute. Her practice often explores the relationship between geology and everyday life. For example, Halperin shares her birthday with the Eldfell volcano in Iceland, and returns once a decade to spend time with the volcano on significant occasions.
Her latest project takes her back to New York, her childhood home, through a ‘mineral biography of the city’ which takes shape across a range of media, including drawings, photographs, objects, and a 35mm slide show.
At the project’s heart is a piece of garnetiferous gneiss, excavated from beneath the street which Halperin grew up on – a point of connection between her biography, that of the modern city, and the deep geological time that shaped it.
Alongside her new project Minerals of New York, The Hunterian will exhibit a number of Halperin’s works from its own collection which relate to her ongoing interest in the Eldfell volcano.
This work was produced for a recent solo exhibition at Leeds Arts University, and is on view for the first time in Scotland.
Minerals of New York is at the Hunterian Art Gallery from 13 July – 13 October 2019. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm and Sunday 11.00am – 4.00pm. Admission is free.
March 27, 2019 § Leave a comment
Leeds Arts University
29 March – 09 May 2019
Blenheim Walk Gallery
Leeds, LS2 9AQ
Originally from New York, Ilana Halperin studied for her MFA at Glasgow School of Art, and now works between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute.
Her research-practice is internationally oriented, with a deep time focus, and explores the relationship between geology and everyday life. For example, Halperin shares her birthday with the Eldfell volcano in Iceland, and returns once a decade to spend time with the volcano on significant occasions.
For Leeds Arts University, Halperin’s latest body of work, ‘Minerals of New York’, takes the form of a mineral biography of the city.
In Halperin’s own words: “The project began with an encounter with the Subway Garnet, a huge historic blood red mineral found on 35th Street and Broadway. It led me deep into the stores of the American Museum of Natural History, to a personal mineral museum in the basement of a small bungalow in Queens, and back again, to a piece of Garnetiferous Gneiss found 150 feet below the street where I grew up in New York City.”
Minerals of New York will include a closing performance lecture by Halperin, before touring to The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, in summer 2019.
Opening night and in conversation with Lisa Le Feuvre: Thursday 28 March 5-7pm
Lisa Le Feuvre is a curator, writer, editor and public speaker, who will be doing a guest in-conversation with Ilana Halperin, which will then be transcribed for a book project. In conversation will start at 5.30pm.
Free entry. Refreshments will be served and everyone is welcome. Booking not required.
Closing performance lecture: Thursday 9 May 5-6pm
Free entry. Booking not required.
Photo by Gayle Portnow Halperin
March 11, 2019 § Leave a comment
We are delighted to announce that Ilana Halperin: The Rock Cycle (Yamaguchi) has launched!
The Rock Cycle (Yamaguchi) is a new cross-disciplinary international project between Yamaguchi and Scotland by Glasgow-based artist Ilana Halperin with Fukuoka-born Aberdeen-based curator Naoko Mabon. Building on Halperin’s exploratory research residency in 2018 at Akiyoshidai International Art Village supported by Creative Scotland and Hope Scott Trust, the project now shifts into full-scale activity.
Drawing inspiration from the geological rock cycle, the project highlights the remarkable landscape of Yamaguchi, reflecting an upcoming bid to designate Akiyoshidai as an International Geopark. Within this art-science based investigation, Halperin will make a new body of work utilising materials and methods unique to Yamaguchi, which will culminate in solo exhibitions in Yamaguchi in Autumn 2019.
Back in Scotland, Halperin will create new work responding to Yamaguchi and the geological and archaeological context of Orkney. In 2020/21, Pier Arts Centre in Orkney will host an exhibition featuring Halperin’s new works, in conversation with thematically resonant works by Yamaguchi-based artists Yoshihisa Nakano and Keijiro Suzuki. Each ‘chapter’ in the project will be accompanied by an outreach programme, including an educational workshop, roundtable and field trip. A limited edition bilingual artist publication will be produced.
Yamaguchi Prefecture is known for its geological significance – notably through Akiyoshidai, the highest concentration of karst formations in Japan, and Akiyoshido, the nation’s largest and longest limestone cave, located in an area designated as a quasi-national park.
Through the lens of Yamaguchi and Scotland, The Rock Cycle (Yamaguchi) considers new ways of imagining our relationship to the natural world.
For further information on the project, follow us at :
September 17, 2018 § Leave a comment
Delighted to contribute to Yamaguchi Institute of Contemporary Art’s exhibition on archives at Saikotei Yamaguchi as part of YICA 20th anniversary celebrations…thank you 中野良寿 Yoshihisa Nakano for beautiful photos…
July 13, 2018 § Leave a comment
LUX Scotland presents: Fed from the fiery springs
Glasgow Film Theatre. 12 Rose Street Glasgow G3 6RB
Sunday July 29, 2018. 7:45 – 9:15pm
United by an engagement with the elemental forces of nature on volcanic islands and city streets, Fed from the fiery springs is a programme of artists’ moving image with a new performative lecture from Glasgow based artist Ilana Halperin.
Coinciding with Joan Jonas’s major exhibition at Tate Modern, the programme offers a rare chance to see Jonas’s Volcano Saga (1989) featuring Tilda Swinton in an imaginative retelling of 13th century Icelandic myths, alongside Trisha Baga and Jessie Stead’s take on the conventions of the spaghetti western on a volcanic island in Stromboli (2014) and Cinthia Marcelle’s stoked up tension at a zebra-crossing in Confronto (2005).
The programme will close with a new performative lecture inspired by artist Ilana Halperin’s longstanding geological research. Minerals of New York (2018) sees Halperin work with 18 photographs of the Manhattan street where she grew up, taken by her mother in 1986 prior to its demolition during a wave of gentrification.
Fed from the fiery springs has been selected by independent curator and writer Graham Domke, who will give a short introduction to the programme.
May 26, 2018 § Leave a comment
Opening soon, in amazing company at MAMAC – Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de Nice
May 24, 2018 § Leave a comment
I am delighted to announce The Rock Cycle (Yamaguchi), a research fellowship hosted by Akiyoshidai International Artist Village in Yamaguchi, Japan. With curatorial support from Naoko Mabon/Wagon, project support from Keijiro Suzuki and generous funding from Creative Scotland and Hope Scott Trust. With deep gratitude to Yoshihisa Nakano for the invitation to learn about the wonders of Akiyoshidai and Yamaguchi. Thank you to a wonderful team in Yamaguchi, Scotland and on!
You can follow daily geologic adventures on instagram here :
Photo by Naoko Mabon