Beautiful and poetic though geologist/philosopher James Hutton’s orginal conception of deep time through the formation of rocks may have been
‘no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end’
and inspirational though it may have been for poets like Robert Burns, you can’t help but feel you are left hollow, cold, isolated and bereft by that sentiment.
That’s why everyone should visit the exhibition by Ilana Halperin that opened last night (Friday June 12th)
For a more recent –less human isolationist – generation of artists and intellectuals –like Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark and Manuel de Landa – have dug themselves more sympathetically into geological strata to the find the basis of the human race’s own form and structure in commonality with all those structures mineral, biological , conceptual that we find in our earthly context. Thus we feel our way forward not in disdain or isolation for everything around us, but in a commonality through the new approaches of geological intimacy of object biographies, autobiographical trace fossils, and paleontological assemblies and so on.
Ilana Halperin is one of those artists who points us in her own understated, quiet way towards big ontological questions and new modes of being on earth. In her portrayal of a mineralogical history of her life in New York and Glasgow, her delightfully delicate graphite sketches of gems remind us that these minerals (crystals, limestones, garnets, stilnbites etc) are ‘kin’ in their structural formation, in Haraway’s terminology, to our own bones, our houses, our eyes and our teeth, to the language we speak and the sedimentation of knowledge in all our books. That we are part, kith and kin, of everything on this planet and beyond.
Ilana Halperin’s ‘Minerals of New York’ is at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery curated by Dominic Paterson.