måg | issue twelve

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MÅG 12 måg # 12 2013 published by nabroad www.maagmag.com



“ A fresh is a space of th It is the openin before I have sp opening of my ha brought it do RUTH The Bride 1988 244 x 244 x 153 cm mixed media performing sculpture Photo credit Tomek Sierek, courtesy of Liliane Lijn.

h sheet of paper he mute not-yet. ng of my mouth poken. It is the and before I have own in a fist. “ H BARKER

Ilana Halperin The Library

24 May–29 September 2013 Contemporary art at the National Museum of Scotland Free entry

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Welcome to this, the twelfth issue of måg magazine. This issue takes inspiration from the text of Ruth Barker’s ‘Works on Paper’, and marks the end of our third year of publishing måg. Barker’s text describes paper and its physical and conceptual existence, which has been our starting point for this issue of måg. Invited artists and curators have responded to Barker’s text and an unexpected dialogue between the individual texts has emerged in the process. Contributors to this issue are: Scottish-based Ruth Barker, Ilana Halperin, Kate V Robertson, Moray Hillary, London-based Pavla Alchin and Oslo-based Lisa Stålspets. AUDHILD DAHLSTRØM Editor



Copyright of all editorial content is held by måg. Reproduction in whole or part is forbidden. måg © 2013 www.maagmag.com

TEXT 5 EDITOR / Audhild Dahlstrøm 10 WORKS ON PAPER / Ruth Barker / Kate V Robertson 22 A CONVERSATION ACROSS TWO MOMENTS IN TEN YEARS / Ilana Halperin 38 UNTITLED / Pavla Alchin 442 PAPER NIMBUS (MARK MAKING) / Moray Hillary 52 THE MIND IN THE MATTER / Lisa Stålspets

Title text here Kate V Robertson, Untitled 2012




RKS N PER by Ruth Barker ‘Works on Paper’ by Ruth Barker, an essay commissioned by visual artist Kate V Robertson for her publication of the same name. The publication was funded by Arts Trust Scotland and launched as part of the two person exhibition at David Dale Gallery, Glasgow, ‘Kilian Rüthemann & Kate V Robertson’ 2012


A sheet of paper is an alchemical thing. Hold it in your hands. Your thumbs make small dents in the surface. Hold it up to the light. You can see the ghost of the world in the daylight that bleeds through its once-woody pores. Spread the first two digits of one hand in an open V. Run the paper’s edge along the sex of your finger-join. See the red line, biting, and the sting. A fresh sheet of paper is a space of the mute not-yet. It is the opening of my mouth before I have spoken. It is the opening of my hand before I have brought it down in a fist. It is my mind’s eye on waking (empty, waiting, in the space between the sloughed off dream and the gaze). Paper comes in sheets, in reams, in quires, in bundles, and bales. It is eloquent stuff, full of fetishised potential. A quire of paper is sometimes called a gathering, which makes me think that paper must be about the bringing together of things, words, marks, moments. The blank surface of a sheet of paper is a landscape in which one mark may encounter another, or one word may find another next to it. Each word, once inscribed on the paper’s surface, is pinned, unable to move, and unable to readjust its context. The word, the mark, must stay where it is put until the paper itself disappears from under it, torn up by fingers, dissolved in water, chewed by moths or mice-mouths. And so the paper gives us back the world; the fallible, casual, deliberate surface on which we measure one thing against another and see them as related, and try to make them make sense. The mouse takes the paper into her nest. She pulls it into shreds and shreds and shreds and weaves the pieces into her fur and her waste to make a home. This is her work. The wasp makes her own paper by collecting dry fibres and mixing them with her spit. Then she builds her greyish paper citadel, slowly, making first a canopy and then a stem, and then her tiers and tiers of cells. This is her work.

And us? We pull the thin paper sheet towards us. We smooth it out and look for imperfections. We hold it tight, and we see the way that the marks of our hands have left paper-wounds and creases in its surface. We remember that this is the skin of trees, a landscape of wood and glue and rags and chalk, all pulped and pressed and cleaned. And we remember that this is our landscape, a basin of potential meanings, in which (remember) one mark may encounter another, and one word may find another next to it. Our papers are the moments that we have gathered together. We make marks that bark, or sing, or whisper. We tear and spill and rub and stain and trace. We drip and we burn. We find a place that may never have been there and we enter its potential space, drawing it out, bleeding it, effacing its boundaries and borders. Our papers are a sheaf, a ream, of almost, maybe, could be. And the marks we make on them may be indelible. Sheets of paper are alchemical things. See the red line, biting, and the sting.


Kate V Robertson, Untitled (Cuts) 2012


“ A shee alchemical thing. Ho Your thumbs make smal Hold it up to the light. of the world in the d through its onc Spread the first tw in an open V. Run the the sex of your finger biting, and the sting

The Bride 1988 244 x 244 x 153 cm mixed media performing sculpture Photo credit Tomek Sierek, courtesy of Liliane Lijn.

et of paper is an old it in your hands. ll dents in the surface. . You can see the ghost daylight that bleeds ce-woody pores. wo digits of one hand e paper’s edge along r-join. See the red line, g.� RUTH BARKER


Kate V Robertson, Untitled (Paperwork) 2010

Kate V Robertson, Untitled (Font) 2011


Kate V Robertson, Untitled 2012

Kate V Robertson, Untitled 2012




/HALPERIN/ In September 2003 I turned 30. The World Trade Center had come down only two years before; my father was sick but still alive; and I visited the Eldfell volcano, which appeared in 1973 on the Icelandic island of Heimaey, for the first time. I also gave a talk on drawing called “Integrating Catastrophe” in a vast hall in Xi’an, China, not far from the Terracotta Army. In September 2013 I will turn 40. I recently returned to Eldfell for the first time since 2003. When Audhild asked if I would like to contribute “Integrating Catastrophe” to this issue of måg, I began to imagine having a conversation with a text written ten years before, across time and space, from 30 to 40, from one moment to an entirely different one. 2003 = Regular 2013 = Italics In Lapland, the river broke very early last year. The floods that came as a result were as bad as in 1981 when you had to get a boat down the main road, and Koppelo, where I was living - which WAS the village at the end of the road - became an island. Ideas, like landmass, perpetually shift, lie dormant and erupt again. Known territories submerge. New landmass forms. In 1963, off the Southern coast of Iceland, Surtsey broke through the surface of the sea. On New Year’s Eve, 1964, another new landmass showed promise nearby. They named it Surtla, but it was to be an unconsummated romance. Surtla never appeared, retreating back into a break in the ocean floor. It is here, at

the break, that the first membrane may have formed, distinguishing itself from the water above and the magma below - an air bubble: the potential origin of life. One evening in Edinburgh, Sara approached me and said,”I have been thinking about your work lately. I came across something that I think you might be very interested in - it’s a collection of body stones”.” Body stones?” “Body stones - gall stones, kidney stones - they are all made of geology”. Out of this conversation grew a totally unexpected line of enquiry, the idea that we as humans are also geological agents - we form geology. We are like volcanoes, producing new landmass on a micro scale. We are closer relations to Eyjafjallajokull than previously thought. In the body, each stone is a biological entity; once out of the body it belongs to the realm of geology. Our bodies follow an example set by much earlier life forms. I had a conversation with Rachel about what constitutes life in the world of geology. She told me about a piece of galena, the natural form of lead. Microbes feasting on its mineral body have left a trace fossil of activity across its surface, forming miniature canyons and valleys through the course of their meal. The boundary between the biological and geological can begin to blur. A body stone is a new territory, a miniature planet travelling through an interior universe. New landmass. We should name stones as we name stars, each one in memory of someone close. In 1976, thousands of snakes committed suicide off the coast of Guadeloupe. There was about to be a massive volcanic eruption on the island. The ground temperature rose above boiling point. The snakes fled down the slopes of the volcano and into the

Excerpts from The Library. An etched book of Maine Mica, 2012. Courtesy of Neil McLean, National Museums Scotland


Archival photograph of the 1973 Eldfell eruption.


The building sways.

My father told me about a man who went to the same synagogue as another man he knew. The man worked on one of the top floors of the Trade water where they promptly drowned. Center. He was there when it Most snakes can’t swim. happened. His floor was above where one of the planes hit, so there was no Tourists were on holiday at a coastal getting out. In Orthodox tradition if resort in Turkey shortly after the someone who is married dies but their catastrophic earthquake that body is not found their partner must happened there a few years ago. remain widowed until their own death. A series of aftershocks hit the area and Knowing this, the man called his wife the tourists, fearing another massive and said he would not be able to quake was about to occur, leapt from escape from the Towers and was about their windows in an effort to escape to jump out of the window of his office. impending collapse. The earthquakes He did not want her to have any illusions did not escalate into anything other about his potential survival. In this way than trembling chandeliers, but a small he gave her the freedom to start a new fissure was left in the form of an impulse. life. Maybe he was the person in the To swim when you can’t. To jump when, newspaper leaping midair. This changed with broken limbs, it would be impossible my interpretation of the story of the to move quickly enough to be out of the snakes. shadow of falling debris. We found mica in the forest way up My sisters and I used to play our north in a now disused quarry, first favourite game in the Hall of the Great opened during WWII to provide Whale at the Museum of Natural History. supplies for electrical insulation. For The rules of the game: years, the skyscrapers in New York were firmly planted in mid-town and down at In the Hall is a whale so big it would fill the end of the island - not by choice, an Olympic sized swimming pool. It is but because there the dense suspended in midair by invisible threads pegmatite-rich rock was exposed at the as it leaps in an arc towards the floor. surface – mica schist strong enough to You run under the tip of its nose. It is hold the weight of towers. looking down at you. You stand and look up at it for as long as you can stand This same type of rock inhabits the coast to. The one to stay the longest is the of Maine, vast areas of Scotland and winner. The longer the stare-down, the Riverside Park along the Hudson. As a clearer it becomes - the whale is about kid growing up, I knew mica from streets to dive through the floorboards. If you that glinted in the sun; playgrounds are the one to be there when it peopled by boulders that seemed happens you will be crushed. It is the made of silver and gold; rocks on the same sensation as a game you play beach with layers you could peel open when you are slightly older. You stand like pages in a book. Peter told me that directly in front of a very tall building samples of mica are sometimes termed with your body almost touching it and ‘books’. My mother remembers finding look up as hard as you can. books of mica in the alley next to

Ilana Halperin, The Subway Garnet, 2012


Ilana Halperin, The Pompeii of the North, July 2012

the building where she grew up in Brooklyn. Edgar Allan Poe lived across from Riverside Park where he is rumoured to have written The Raven. If you find a stone in the area and leave it on the granite plaque on West 83rd street your book of mica becomes part of a memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. I imagine all these volumes together. A library composed of only rocks and minerals, every layer another narrative. In the north of Iceland along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, two newlyweds move into their first house. They are very excited - new house/new life. No one tells them when they move into the house that it sits on a fault line. There is a massive volcanic eruption followed by an earthquake. Their house splits in two. Their living room has a huge gash straight through it. They are horrified: devastated. What does this mean? Their house is destroyed. Their marriage had only just begun, and the chasm running through their marital bed does not bode well for their future. They realise that actually, the house has a clean break down the middle, and instead of devastation it could be a sign for something much better. They build a new room in the space of the gap, transforming a potentially catastrophic situation into an expanded living space. Integrating catastrophe.

the dolomite (a near relation of limestone). And Marble occurred.. Though stromatolites and coral are found on different branches of the phylogenetic tree, both eventually become stone. We will too, or our bones will. On September 18th, 2003 I turned 30. I celebrated my birthday with the Eldfell volcanic cone on the island of Heimaey off the southern coast of Iceland and just slightly north of Surtsey (born in 1963) though from the top of the crater if the sky had been clear we would have been able to see the island that is older by ten years. Eldfell and I were born at almost exactly the same moment geologically and practically speaking. It is not so often that you and a landmass share the same age and therefore I could think of no better place to be at that exact moment at that exact time.

In a small thermal town in the mountains of the Auvergne in France, seven generations ago Eric Papon’s family founded the Fontaines Pétrifiantes in Saint-Nectaire to create limestone sculptures made via the same process that forms stalactites in a cave. In a normal limestone cave it takes one hundred years for a stalactite to grow one centimetre, in the Fontaines Pétrifiantes one centimetre grows in one year. Through an elaborate process, In Fugitive Pieces Anne Michaels asked, carbonate waterfalls are directed over ‘at what moment does limestone twenty-five metre high ‘casting ladders’ become marble?’ When we went to located inside a volcanic mountain. the quarry in Ledmore, Simon explained Eric places objects on the rungs of each that around 535 million years ago, the ladder. Objects quickly become marble here mostly began as covered in a new layer of calcium stromatolite-bearing limestone. carbonate - limestone. Bones and coral Stromatolites are among the first traces are material cousins, composed of of organic life on earth. The stromatolites calcium carbonate. died, were crushed, compressed, turned into limestone and cooked by new rock I formed a series of limestone sculptures that ground its way through fissures in called The Mineral Body over the course

/HALPERIN/ of four months in the Fontaines Pétrifiantes. They began as paper cuts, then laser and wood, now wood encrusted in limestone. New landmass of a cultural nature. Cultural landmass. Maurice Kraft, along with his wife Katya, was killed in a pyroclastic blast in a volcanic eruption in 1991. They were skilled volcano watchers, hopping on planes around the world at the slightest hint of an eruption. Years before they died on the volcano, Maurice was travelling through Yosemite National Park with a co-worker, Bob Decker. Maurice seemed uninterested in the surroundings, so Bob began to talk about the cataclysmic volcanic activity that created the landscape. He asked Maurice if he found it interesting and Maurice replied, ‘Yes, but I am here one million years too late.’ The earth is 4.5 billion years old, give or take a few million years. Though twelve months are not massive in a geological time context, within daily life a lot can happen in a year. A person can form, and we can form geology. Robert Smithson said, “One pebble moving one inch every one million years is enough activity to keep me really excited”. There are different approaches. Tectonic plates move at the same rate as your fingernails grow. I spent my thirtieth birthday with a volcano born the same year. To mark this event, I visited the Eldfell volcano, celebrating our simultaneous appearance in 1973. Eldfell was an unexpected volcano. During the course

of the eruption, 400 houses were buried by ash, some gone forever, some dug out after it was safe to return to the island. In 2003 I made drawings of the disappeared houses, based on archival photographs taken before the buildings were completely entombed in volcanic debris. I heard they were carrying out a contemporary archaeology project on Heimaey called The Pompeii of the North, excavating a street of houses buried during the eruption. So, this past summer, I went back to the island. Standing on the volcano, I thought about how Eldfell and I are now almost 40. I wondered about returning to Eldfell when we both turn 50, 60...on. How, while we both share our lifetimes now, that will only continue for a certain amount of time, and then Eldfell will go from a human time scale, 30 years old, 40 years old, to a geological time scale - 150, 1000, 800 hundred million years old. When I was 30 I found a crystal shard on the slopes of the volcano. Upon return, marking almost a decade more of life, I happened upon agates which emerged from the ‘new red lava’ in 1973.

Ilana Halperin, Nomadic Landmass, 2005


The Mineral Body forms in a petrifying cave in France, 2013. Courtesy of Fontaines pĂŠtrifiantes de Saint-Nectaire.


In 1976, th committed suicide Guadeloupe. There was volcanic eruption on t temperature rose a The snakes fled dow volcano and into t promptly they drow don’t swim.”

housands of snakes e off the coast of s about to be a massive the island. The ground above boiling point. wn the slopes of the the water where wned. Most snakes ILANA HALPERIN


UNTIT by Pavla Alchin



This very page has been left intentionally blanC. Alien race Metar did not secure the sequeL. Béla Fleck’s banjo maintains bucolic ambiencE. Uri Revah’s brush melts in dancing euphoriA. Lyrical hints in songs of Einstürzende NeubauteN. Author Idries Shah had reasons for such absenceS. Rare collector’s items pressed by the Off Beat labeL. Agnieszka Glinska’s sensory extravaganzA. Sybil of Velázquez caught as in fleeting momenT. Arvo Pärt’s prepared piano thins into SilencE.


PAPER N (MARK M by Moray Hillary



Moray Hillary, It has faded in her memory

From the first dangerous black mark on white, like blackened sunshine, drawing is a magic operation, a translation of feeling, an act of mental creation or miscreation. A CONNECTION From a bonfire of rabid crackling marks illuminating glimpses of ideas, watching mid-air for signs, then snatching opportunities as they’re delivered, a connection is established where marks become a matrix of notions, small codes that spring alight from their dark coiled places. The immensity of small black marks and the spaces that lie in between. Places to dream or hide in, poignant expressions of mood. The marks help us be more candid, spinning into our journeys’ theme. FROM THEIR SOURCE With one tiny sparkle inside, impossible to resist turning the lights on in the bunker. From their source, marks absorb yearnings, ooze them, shriek them out in the night - white light pierces. It’s always in the night that the drawings are born, flying on a curious breeze. PAPER THOUGHTS The tension level is decreasing; marks hurtle across the surface with unintentional ferocity; burnt shadows on unwary paper, making its grain groan with fast machine-gun repetition. Struck anew by the strangeness of the process, places of paper thoughts appear like distant voices. A FOCUSING TOOL Terrified of the occasional violence of being crumpled up in a tense fist and flung against the wall there comes a kind of detachment from the object world – a dance-mix of what we taste in a moment of shock. First things first: ideas are gathered. There’s a trafficking of things in and out: a filtering. Mark-making becomes a focusing tool, hauling the overgrown lotus out of the subconscious. Small black marks are buried intuitions flying blindly from the pen, little scratches that orchestrate emotion. Ideas seen from a long distance and brought into the real world across invisible borders. Hidden troubles left weightless, disintegrated. NIMBUS Then the empty glass is full, tongue darts over lips. A hush, and an idea is unveiled, embalmed in golden sunlight. The drawing becomes a bridge that winds to other work and new beginnings. These marks chiselled on paper are an eternal force, becoming a vision of life never quite achieved. There is a mystery formed by ritual. Marks create spaces dancing, forms embracing, and minds thinking. Fragments of life made sense of, promised joys bought through frustration. These joys are a powerful and secret nimbus.


Moray Hillary, Now set fire to that heap


“ With one t impossible to resist t in the bunker. Fr marks absorb year shriek them ou - white light pier in the night that the flying on a curious bre

tiny sparkle inside, turning the lights on rom their source, rnings, ooze them, ut inthe night rces. It’s always e drawings are born, eeze.� MORAY HILLARY


Moray Hillary, In the dawn I woke up speaking words I didn’t understand


The m in the m by Lisa St책lspets

mind matter


Putting theories into practice Think of this as an informal space, an experimental workshop. I brought with me a paper, a pencil and a pen. Let us examine the paper first. A paper - well not just a paper but any given thing in the world - has more identities than one. This paper carries with it linguistic properties; metaphors; memories of other papers; textures. Stories inscribed on other things than the paper itself. Remember when you were little and cut your finger‌

Not everything has a profound meaning, but everything carries with it a discourse of possible meanings. Things are inhabited by their metaphors. Analysing the possibilities of working on paper I am confronted by hypothetical lines covering the sheet, lines that have yet to be drawn. I am confronted by theories on lines and folds. I am confronted by emptiness and mass. I will put down a line - now - here. Walking the line with St Augustine What lies in a line? The line is a boundary, a distance: from here to there. The line is also an image of time. Time is linear or circular. Either way, time is a line that either exists in a pulsating stand still (circle) or in a progression forward in one direction (line).

St Augustine wrote about time as something ever escaping his grasp. He dismissed clocks or the movements of planets as ways of measuring time. He said that time would pass even if the planets were standing still. He divided time into past, present and future. He claimed that we are trapped in the present, and that even the present, as we try to grasp it, falls into smaller and smaller segments, vanishes between our fingers. He said that we can only access past and future through our imagination since the past no longer exists and the future is not yet here. If time were line on a paper, St Augustine would place himself physically on the line grasping for a focal point that becomes smaller and smaller as the line would only be present in the actual making. Picture a divine hand drawing a line on a sheet of paper called the universe. St Augustine would be located in the ink flowing from the tip of the pen as it seeped into the paper and only there. St Augustine would not be there to dry in the paper, nor be able to stand back and look at the whole picture. He would be a small dot rushing through the paper, standing still but

always a part of the movement of time. He would always have to keep up with the pen so his body would be the same, and yet a new one. He would never be a spectator overlooking the whole picture - he would be trapped inside the paper universe. Folding paper with Gilles Deleuze If time is a line, then the paper is a universe. If time is a line on a paper and the paper is folded that would allow the past and the present to meet as the line would not be straight anymore. Look at Deleuze sitting cross-legged making origami cranes, talking about the theory of the fold. In folding the paper a situation is created where the inside is no longer different from the outside. Both sides of the paper are working together to create a three-dimensional bird. Gilles Deleuze, I think I understand what you mean but I am not sure. He tells me to


draw a portrait of myself. He folds it in the middle. My mouth disappears, speech is turned inward. I am talking to myself, from the inside of my outside. I am subject and object, deconstructed, falling apart, or imploding into a double of myself. Tracing marks on paper with Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida puts a blank paper on top of a drawing, holds them both up to the light and starts tracing the lines from the drawing on to the empty sheet on top. This is not just a drawing; one might consider it the idea of thought. Derrida did not make the original drawing; he makes reinterpretations over and over again. There is no original in the usual sense. We make do with this simulacrum of an idea… Derrida makes hundreds of drawings like this. He speaks in riddles, with logic sneaking up from behind. You are only looking at the lines when you could also look at the things that are left out... the trace is the presence of absence… Derrida looks closely at the drawings to detect lines that were erased. To see in what order the lines were drawn. It is not unimportant, you know. He is trailing the trail of the drawing process. A point in time preceeding you, and lost. He will never find anything real or uncorrupted but he will recapture the steps you took and create an alien copy. Derrida draws the negative spaces in between the objects in a drawing. He compares the drawings to find out about their differences. There are millions and millions of details. I draw the line I know this: the line has a life of its own. It does not stay on the paper but creates new little lines in between the paper and the spectator. It forms letters and words. Lines can be sounded out. A drawing is a synaesthetic experience. Drawings can roar, smell (really stink), by the curve of their lines. Lines can be muted in darkness, but that does not mean they are not there. I compare myself to a mapmaker tracking tracks of the unknown. It is a pompous thing to do. I am more of a photographer’s assistant really. I work on my drawings as I would in the dark room. I increase the exposure, making my drawings darker and darker. At some point I stop. I draw what I am not, what is separate from me not my opposite. I draw things different from my life, but not unthinkable things. The phone rings. Someone is there, on the line. I think it is him (who?), but it is someone else (oh!). I thought I knew. I wanted answers; something stable to hold on to. Would you like it in writing? Would you like it fixed in unchanging form? Long stretches of time passing. Leaving marks. Long stretches of time passing. Leaving marks. Long stretches of time passing. Leaving marks. Long stretches of time passing. Leaving marks. Long stretches of time passing. Leaving marks. Long stretches of time passing. Leaving marks. If you set fire to an image you are not only burning the marks on the paper. You are burning language.

Drawings by Lisa Stålspets


“ I draw what is separate from I draw things different unthinkable things Someone is ther I think it is h but it is someone else (

w what I am not, m me not my opposite. t from my life, but not s. The phone rings. re, on the line. him (who?), (oh!). ” LISA STÅLSPETS


’Untitled’ (2011)