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Ilana Halperin

Ilana Halperin


Ilana Halperin's Exploratorium residency culminated in the launch of Library of Earth Anatomy,​  a collection of remarkable geological artifacts that invite and inspire us to see rocks in new ways. Created for the Exploratorium's Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery, the Library employs unconventional classification methods to dissolve the usual boundaries between nature and culture, as well as between animal, vegetable, and mineral.

Premised on the notion that “Earth’s geological record is like a book whose pages have been ripped apart and scattered about,” the Library reveals the unusual richness of Bay Area “geologic literature.” Its rock fragments tell many stories. A series of cards correlated to the rocks guides us in the apprehension that the solidity of rock is an illusion, and that the scale of geologic time is immense.

Ilana Halperin’s work explores the relationship between geology and everyday life. Her work draws parallels between very personal events and objective, natural forces, such as the birth of a volcano. In this way, her work creates a way for us to consider our place within the deep-time continuum using the more intimate perspective of human time scales. Halperin’s approach combines fieldwork in diverse locations and research in museums, archives, and laboratories with an active studio-based practice. Her work manifests in different media taking the form that the project requires. Collaborative approaches grow organically from the work itself and have led to unexpected fieldwork alongside volcanologists and wild caving with neuroscientists.

Halperin’s solo exhibitions include The Library at National Museum of Scotland; Steine at the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité; Hand Held Lava at Schering Stiftung, Berlin; Physical Geology (slow time) at Artists Space, New York; and The Difficulty of Falling in Love During an Earthquake at Tramway, Glasgow. Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions including Volcano, Compton Verney; Estratos curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, PAC Murcia; Polar Dispatches at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine; Sharjah Biennial 8 and Experimental Geography curated by Nato Thompson. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Inaugural Artist Fellowship at National Museums Scotland, a British Council Darwin Now Award, and an Alchemy Fellowship at Manchester Museum. She has undertaken artist residencies at the Camden Arts Centre; Cove Park; and aboard the Professor Molchanov, an ecotourism vessel that travels into the Arctic.