In 1973 a massive volcanic eruption on Heimaey, an island lying just off the southern coast of Iceland, led to the formation of a new landmass: an ash cone which was named Eldfell. Thirty years later in October 2003, Ilana Halperin travelled to Heimaey to celebrate both her own and Eldlfell’s thirtieth birthday. This trip is the starting point for Nomadic Landmass, Halperin’s first solo exhibition at doggerfisher. Iceland lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the meeting point between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian tectonic plate. Halperin has long been interested in exploring the relationship between geology and daily life, using it as a means of thinking about the movement of time as reflected in both radical or subtle changes in the landscape. Iceland has a particular resonance for her. Born in New York in 1973 and now living in Glasgow, Iceland is the symbolic place where Halperin’s ‘two world’s meet’.
Nomadic Landmass includes photographic images taken en-route to Eldfell by Halperin from the window of a small plane; drawings inspired by the Heimaey eruption; geological specimens; footage of the actual 1973 eruption and evacuation of the island filmed by The Center for Short Lived Phenomena at The Smithsonian Institution, and Halperin’s 2002 interview with the explorer Dominick Arduin. In 2004 Arduin died while attempting to be the first solo woman to reach the geographic North Pole. Halperin includes anecdotal information within her work in an attempt to fathom both chance encounters and geological incidents. By blending slow time and fast time, coincidences and physical changes, Halperin’s work echoes the ever-evolving landscape and the movement her own life. She charts this movement and a sequence of coincidences in “Ruins in Reverse (Nomadic Landmass)” a small publication available in the office.
‘My work explores the relationship between geology and daily life. Whether boiling milk in a 100 degree Celsius sulphur spring in the crater of an active volcano, celebrating my birthday with a landmass of the same age or recording the sound of a melting glacier – the geologic history and environmental situation specific to the locale directly informs the development of each piece.’
Ilana Halperin (born New York 1973) completed her MFA at Glasgow School of Art in 2000. She is currently PhD research affiliate at Glasgow School of Art and has been selected as artist-in-residence at Camden Arts Centre, London (2005). Recent exhibitions include Dromocroma, Autori Cambi, Rome (2004); participation in MAKROLAB project with book launch at Venice Biennale (2003); The Difficulty of Falling in Love during an Earthquake (solo show) Tramway, Glasgow (2001); two-person show with Sally Osborn, doggerfisher (2001) and Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2000).
Ilana Halperin would like to thank Global Volcanism Program at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; Earthwatch Institute, Maynard, MA.; Bob Citron; Patrick O’Growney; DLC Glasgow; Jim Lambert; Steve Dale and Glasgow City Council. Ilana Halperin and doggerfisher would like to thank Lyon & Turnbull Auctioneers.