Introduction | Ilana Halperin

about, artists, Ilana Halperin, Introduction

The challenging relationship between art and science is ubiquitous within the practice of American born artist, Ilana Halperin. For years, Halperin has explored issues from ecology through to biology with bold, ambitious projects, practicing in significant geological sites from Japan to North America.

Through extensive and far-reaching voyages, Halperin uses these scientific concepts to connect with our everyday lived experience, uncovering and embracing elements of the ethereal and sublime:

“My work explores the relationship between geological phenomena and daily life. Whether boiling milk in a 100 degree Celsius sulphur spring in the crater of an active volcano or celebrating my birthday with a landmass of the same age, the geologic history and environmental situation specific to the locale directly informs the direction each piece takes” 

Although creating visual artworks as a means to record her discoveries, Halperin’s work is quite often representative of a much larger, long-term piece of fieldwork.

To commemorate her 30th birthday, Halperin embarked on a pilgrimage to the Eldfell volcano (‘born’ in the same year as Ilana) on the island of Heimaey off the southern coast of Iceland. The project was entitled Nomadic Landmass, and was visually representative of conversations, connections and interviews with local residents, explorers and geologists. The outcome of her time with Eldfell took the physical shape of literature, photographic evidence, etchings and drawings of the imposing and formidable landscape.

In Between poles and tides, Halperin’s work Physical Geology (cave cast/slow time) presents a challenging and complex line of practice, developed over ten months in the caves of Fontaines Petrifiantes, France. Displayed on a plinth in the centre of the gallery, the work brilliantly demonstrates Halperin’s preoccupation with Deep Time within her practice. Physical Geology (new landmass 1, 2, 3), displayed on the adjacent wall is a series of three works exploring human connections or ‘body stones’, whilst Physical Geology (field guide) maps a series of geological rock forms and their human stories.

Lauren Hawkins, Talbot Rice Gallery Intern

Image: Chris Park

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