Elizabeth McTernan

I’m currently in the middle of several trans-disciplinary projects, working onsite with thinkers and scientists between Copenhagen, Berlin, and Sevres. This laboratory suits my interests completely, as my artistic practice is woven from themes of landless people and nameless lands, explorations of the non-manmade spectacle and the unspectacular space of introversion. My primary medium is the invisible known. Now I’m Copenhagen, doing two back-to-back artist residencies for the summer, and I have several irons in the fire, including mining the city’s cartography archive, measuring nameless islands off the Danish coastline, co-organizing a math-art salon with the University of Copenhagen, making field recordings with the Karen Blixen Museum’s ornithologists, etc. My closest collaborator for the last ten years is a research mathematician who is currently working out of the University of Western Ontario Department of Mathematics, and, largely due to this profound creative bond, making inquiries between disciplines has become essential to my practice. I’m also working with an engineer from the German Metrology Institute in Berlin who is on the team researching the absolute kilogram, which has further connected me to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres, France, which I will be visiting several times this summer. I also work with Toves Galleri in Copenhagen and had the privilege of exhibiting with them in conjunction with the Niels Bohr Institute last year.

What I take from these encounters I examine through my own lens, from a position in post-conceptual art and philosophy, and with the hope that the final result of all that research ends in the simplicity and richness of, let’s say, a Johnny Cash song. I am U.S. born and am normally based in Berlin. For the last decade, I have been pursuing overland exploration in North America, Europe, Russia, and Central & Southeast Asia (the more remote the better), processing it via mapmaking, drawing, performance, sound and storytelling.

I begin most projects with an intentionally simple, naïve inquiry – often based in a kernel of natural science – that I see as informing the human condition. Overlaying the “objective” geometry of maps and vectors of performative actions over real-life, organic architectural and geographic spaces, the body is entered into a surprisingly complicated landscape, ripe with questions and stories. Through creating uncompromising, unreasonable frames (such as a 6.5 hour walk to meet the sound of a tree that has been cut down thousands of kilometers away), I put the audience in situations that provoke unexpected inconveniences, discoveries, shifts in perception of time and spatial scales, and tertiary events that determine the ultimate form of the work. I take something that is of a literary nature and make it literal in a quest to empower radical slowness and rigorous absurdity, making something that sounds fictional into utter, unembellished non-fiction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s