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On Volcanoes and Other Transfigurative Bodies, 2019

Project type



February 1 - 20 , 2019


NARS Foundation, Project Space, New York City


Caitlin Berrigan and Jemila MacEwan

On Volcanoes and Other Transfigurative Bodies is a dialogue between the work of Caitlin Berrigan and Jemila MacEwan, presented in NARS’ Project Space. Both their practices touch on questions surrounding general ecology, natural forces, and the human condition with connections to feminism, land, the environment, and politics. Most of their questions are connected to volcanoes and the way in which they both refer to the concept of “becoming” as a central part of their research.

In their work, geology becomes a metaphor to talk about general ecologies, the conduit to recreate a dialogue between human and natural forces, the space for mimicry of natural phenomena or inhabiting a character of a science fiction narrative; the idea that makes us wonder about the possibility of acknowledging a second body and the understanding of its impact and extent as a transfigurative form.

The idea of the body in the work of these two artists is expressed as a vessel, creator, destructor, extension and consequence, and natural and ecological manifestation. Their work exists in the tension between observing the extinction of life and questioning what defines impact in geological and human terms. Berrigan and MacEwan create poetic relations between the constant transformations inherent in every living being on the planet.
MacEwan’s work seeks out an empathetic approach to humanity's destructive impulses. Using sculpture and performance in intimate communication with the environment, she inserts herself within the landscape to participate in the process of constant change and exchange between culture and the natural world. In her recent works, MacEwan inhabits the role of various forms of destruction of the natural world, such as a meteorite, volcanoes, dead animal skin, and melting glaciers, as a way to understand what it is to be human in the age of the Holocene Extinction. In her work, these phenomena counter humans' conscious and unconscious impact on each other and the planet.

Caitlin Berrigan’s work “draws upon geology to examine the deep time scales of structural patriarchy, sexual violence, ruptures, resistance, re-emergence, and friendship as a form of politics.” She integrates pseudo-science fiction in the form of episodic videos, sculptures, and drawings that forge into affective geologies and the idea of becoming mineral.
Both artists arrive at the same question, each in their own way. Still, both consider humankind's geological and environmental impact when asking: “Can we begin to grasp the scope and scale of geological change, and human intervention within it by embodying it at the human scale?”
An action as an image /
A text as an image /
An impact as an image /
A body as an image /

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