Center for Short Lived Phenomena at Gallery of Modern Art
April 4, 2016 § Leave a comment
Gallery of Modern Art. Glasgow
11 March – 24 April 2016
For the final work in the moving image programme for Ripples on the Pond, GoMA has invited Ilana Halperin to screen a diptych relating to her work in the Glasgow Museums’ collection. For this presentation The Center for Short Lived Phenomena is shown as part of a diptych with Physical Geology (new land mass/fast time), a Super 8 film Halperin shot on location in Hawaii at the ‘lava entry ocean point’, where new landmass is perpetually created through the ongoing eruption of the Kīlauea volcano. This film from Hawaii was inspired by the archival footage of the eruption on Heimaey and mirrors the events that led to the formation of the island of Ferdinandea in 1831, Halperin’s drawing related to that island is in the exhibition. The project text Ruins in Reverse (Nomadic Landmass) (2005) is also available in the gallery, providing a narrative context for this work.
GoMA is also working with Ilana Halperin on the event FELT EVENTS for GI2016 Across the City programme. This event at Fossil Grove, Victoria Park is with the artist and the saxophonist Raymond Macdonald will join the artist for a geologic call and response.
In 2003 Ilana Halperin turned 30 years old. To mark this event, she visited the Eldfell volcano on the island of Heimaey in Iceland, celebrating their simultaneous appearance on this earth in 1973. This encounter grew into a project entitled Nomadic Landmass which followed a chain of events. They included fieldwork in Mammoth Cave, the longest cave in the world; a conversation about a crystal shard with a geologist in Glasgow; an interview with an Arctic explorer in Lapland who later went missing en route to the North Pole; and an inexplicable connection with a German baker who lived at the foot of the Eldfell volcano. Nomadic Landmass included photographic images taken en route to Eldfell from the window of a small plane; drawings inspired by the eruption on Heimaey; geological specimens (one of which was found at the top of the Eldfell volcano); a small book outlining the story of the project; and footage of the actual 1973 Eldfell eruption and evacuation of the island filmed by The Center for Short Lived Phenomena (now known as The Global Volcanism Program) at The Smithsonian Institution.
Back in July 2003 Halperin spent 10 days on and off underground in Kentucky, USA, working in Mammoth Cave with a conservation organization called Earthwatch. She subsequently found out that Earthwatch formed in 1973 as well. As it turned out, much of their work began through documenting the Eldfell eruption within 24 hours of its start. Bob Citron, the primary investigator on the fieldwork session, filmed 16,000 feet of volcanic eruptions between 1968 and 1974 through The Center for Short Lived Phenomena. When the eruption on Heimaey began he organized a spontaneous field session. The footage they shot was apparently so breathtaking it ended up on most news stations around the world. After the eruption, Citron and the team decided to print a book called Earthwatch about Heimaey and related volcanic events. It is from this publication that the organization took its name. Blue, Halperin’s contact at Earthwatch, put her in contact with Citron, who then offered to loan her the original eruption footage before it was permanently donated to the Smithsonian as part of an extensive volcanic archive. The film The Center for Short Lived Phenomena is a narrative edit of the original archival footage shot by Bob and his colleagues on Heimaey.
Glasgow Museums’ collection includes a series of drawings from Nomadic Landmass, featuring houses buried by ash in the 1973 Eldfell eruption. Within Ripples on the Pond, a related volcanic drawing, Nomadic Landmass (Ferdinandea) (2003) by Halperin is also in the exhibition.