Geologic Intimacy / Physical Geology

Ilana Halperin
For over twenty years my work has explored the relationship between geology and daily life. Drawing parallels between very personal events, for example when I was born or when my father died, with the birth of a volcano, has allowed for a space to think about our place within the geological time continuum from a more intimate perspective. I spend time with earth scientists and in natural history collections, in my studio and working in remote geological field environments. Within my work, I have celebrated my birthday with a volcano born the same year; talked with geologists inside a lava tube inhabited by life-affirming bacteria; examined minerals found below the streets of New York; spent time with geology collections formed inside the body; and held the Allende Meteorite, the oldest known object in the solar system, in my hands.
Within this talk, I will share a core sample of recent narratives which focus on our interlinking lives with rocks and minerals. 
Within my work, two overarching approaches have emerged – Geologic Intimacy and Physical Geology. Moving between these realms has allowed for a certain kind of freedom to explore and draw on these interconnected strands of thinking and making, supporting diverse bodies of work to manifest in the long term. For ‘Geologic Intimacy’, I use the lens of autobiography, personal experience, and narrative to develop projects. Drawing, writing, mapping and performance lectures inform these works. Whilst each project might feature geologic material – usually that material takes the form of a found or gifted existing geologic object. In ‘Physical Geology’ sculpturally focused geologic explorations cultivate a corporeal understanding of geological time and processes. The works develop sculpturally and grow out of field work undertaken in collaboration with geological and environmental scientists, caretakers and keepers of active geologic sites across the world.
My IUA lecture will navigate a cross section of these ideas, looking at how we can articulate through culture new ways of understanding our relationship with our fragile world. 
Ilana Halperin was born in New York and lives and works between Glasgow and the Isle of Bute. She received her MFA from the Glasgow School of Art and her BFA from Brown University. She 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. Her work has featured in solo exhibitions worldwide including Cairn Centre d’Art in the UNESCO GeoPark of Haute Provence; Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité; Artists Space, New York; Manchester Museum and Akiyoshidai Natural History Museum, Japan. 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 2017. Halperin’s solo exhibition Minerals of New York opened at Leeds Arts University in 2019 and toured to The Hunterian, Glasgow and recently to Governors Island in New York. Her work has featured in numerous group exhibitions including: Hollow Earth: Art, Caves and The Subterranean Imaginary, Nottingham Contemporary/Hayward Touring; A Meeting with Eldfell, Safnahús Vestmannaeyja, Iceland;  The Power of Wonder - The New Materialism in Current Art, Museum unter Tage, Bochum, Germany; The Forces Behind the Forms, Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland and touring; Cristallisations - la naissance d'un ordre caché, Centre Pompidou Metz/Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis, France; Allegory of the Cave Painting, Extra City, Antwerp; Estratos curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, PAC Murcia, Spain; Sharjah Biennial 8, UAE; Experimental Geography (touring 2008-11), Independent Curators International. Her exhibition There is a Volcano Behind My House at Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute was on view Summer 2021. She is artist in residence with St. Andrews University and is represented by Patricia Fleming Gallery, Glasgow. An in-depth volume on her work entitled Felt Events, edited by Dr. Catriona McAra, was published by Strange Attractor/MIT Press in 2022. 
Image info & credit:
The Rock Cycle
Terracotta bricks and drainage tiles encrusted in a new layer of limestone over 3 months in the calcifying springs of the Fontaines Pétrifiantes de Saint-Nectaire.
Courtesy of the artist and Patricia Fleming Gallery, Glasgow
Photo credit: Keith Hunter
This event is a part of the spring 2024 lecture series held by the Department of Fine Art and takes place in the Laugarnes Lecture Hall (L193) at Laugarnesvegi 91, 105 Reykjavík
For further information on the lecture series click HERE.