Ilana Halperin: the Library
Geologically-themed show repurposing museum exhibits as art
This article is from 2013.
Location is everything for this new exhibition by Glasgow-based, New York-raised artist Ilana Halperin, the first recipient of an artist's fellowship at National Museums Scotland. Flying in the face of even the richest modern art's essential ephemerality, Halperin's muse is the Earth itself: geology and erosion and the history of the planet, and how we relate it to our own flicker of awareness within that. For The Library, she's created museum exhibit as art, a collection of rock samples chosen for their story or geological interventions she's staged herself.
She places marble and coral alongside one another, both tactile and beautiful, and muses upon their origins as the remains of Earth's first bacterial life. She shows a wooden stencil covered with a sparkling white mineral deposit formed when it was placed in the waters of Iceland's Blue Lagoon. A crystal shard from the same country's Eldfell volcano (a recurring subject of Halperin's, given that she and the volcano were 'born' on the same day in 1973) is shown, and there are fast-formed limestone sculptures created in unique cave conditions amidst the mountains of the Auvergne. Each re-introduces us to these specimens not as dug-up relics, but as evidence of the life our planet has lived and will continue to live.
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until Sun 29 Sep