Patricia Fleming Gallery presents 'Excerpts from the Library'; a new online exhibition by Ilana Halperin

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Patricia Fleming Gallery presents 'Excerpts from the Library'; a new online exhibition by Ilana Halperin
Ilana Halperin, My conglomerate family, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Patricia Fleming, Glasgow 2020.

GLASGOW.- Ilana Halperin’s practice of intertwining intimate geological 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”, and 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 a new watercolour series ‘My Conglomerate Family’ each rock is a portrait of either herself or a loved one. The series she describes, “each rock is a stand in for someone that is part of my family by choice. 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 is an artist originally from New York, now based between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute. Her work explores deep time, the relationship between the slow time of the Earth, connecting geology and the cyclical existence of our daily lives. Halperin, who shares her birthday with the Eldfell volcano in Iceland, 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, recent work includes performance, photography, sculpture, film, drawing and painting.

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 published a monograph on her work entitled New Landmass. Recently, she has explored the Karst landscapes of Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan for ‘The Rock Cycle’. Her new project ‘Minerals of New York’ opened at Leeds Arts University and toured to The Hunterian, Glasgow in 2019. Dr. Catriona McAra is currently editing a book set to be the first academic volume on Halperin’s work, tentatively entitled 'Felt Events' after subtle earthquakes. It will be published by Strange Attractor Press in 2021. ‘There is a Volcano Behind My House’, Halperin’s major new commission with Mount Stuart Trust on the Isle of Bute will open in the not too distant future.

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