Physical Geology (New Landmass/Fast Time)

Ilhana Halperin

27 May 2009

7 drawings (3 of 61 x 81 cm; 4 de 81 x 112 cm), 10 lava stamps (48 x 8 cm) and video, 3’ 48’’ (colour, mute)

Cortesy of the artist

In her work, Ilana Halperin combines personal experience with scientific theory in an attempt to understand geological phenomena. Halperin’s unstoppable desire to be in contact with the volcanic world has led her to work with archaeologists, volcanologists and experts in the history of geological research, and to take an interest in the effects of volcanic eruptions on culture. For Hand Held Lava, Halperin travelled to an active volcano on one of the islands of Hawaii, which has been spilling its lava directly into the ocean since 1984.

From boiling milk with a volcanic fumarole to celebrating her 30th birthday on the summit of Eldfell volcano in Iceland – active since 1973, the year of her birth (and, by the by, a place that the artist Robert Smithson also took an interest in) –, Halperin takes all of these actions into her exhibitions at contemporary art or scientific museums.

Physical Geology is a work in progress that Halperin began in 2007, but in reality it encompasses all of her work, in which art and geology go hand in hand. Ephemeral islands, petrified forests, volcanic dust, expeditions to Iceland, Hawaii, Greenland and many other places rich in volcanic and geological activity, are the sites where Halperin carries out her field work based on studying processes and evoking geological time, which is so different to our own.

The artist explores a personal response to the idea of geological time: a year is a minuscule measure if we are talking about geological time. In our lives, many things can happen in one year. In artistic time too, particularly if we talk about the process of creating an artwork. What does a span of 300 million years mean today? To many of us, nothing. To Halperin, everything.