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A journal update from the Trans Siberian Express Train returning to a winter white studio for Oil + Water 2022

 
 

OIL + WATER,  dated 2014 - 2022.

PROJECT STATEMENT - download the PDF Press Release here.

Outside of the studio, an important part of my process is to relocate to the most naturally suited location that each body of work needs. Bringing only minimal equipment and sourcing all the raw materials directly from the landscape. This allows the environment itself to directly infuse the works, resulting in extraordinary process based collaborations.

In late 2014 at the start of a harsh winter I relocated to a remote studio deep in the forests of Siberia on the Kama river. I did this in order to work alone on a new body of work that focused on two fundamental Siberian resources that occur here in vast quantities. 

The project was called 'Oil + Water'.



looking for suitable installation locations. Siberia 2015
Latitude 58.127116385713855 Longitude 56.37673336911645

The series depends on a process called 'enthalpy of fusion' that is in itself very difficult to replicate outside of laboratory conditions, and by the time I had started to master the process out in the field my time in fact was up and spring had arrived. Six years later I have returned to complete the work that I started, indeed I am writing these very words whilst moving across the vast Russian landscape on the Trans Siberian Express Train towards my final destination. I must confess that this is a time much anticipated as I have remained keen to pursue the series from the very moment I was forced to stop work back in spring 2015. 


‘Dark Matter’
unique chromogenic print
from the series ‘
Oil + Water
Siberia, 2015.


Siberia is one of the few places on the planet where crude oil is able to partially solidify into a molasses like ‘semi-solid’ form, it does this naturally at temperatures below -50 degrees. In 2014 I began creating physical objects from solidifying crude oil such as spheres and elliptical shapes which moved to more complex forms like a crown of thorns, from there I would encase them inside a block of frozen river water forming a large ossuary around them. In the right conditions the tomb of ice freezes inwards creating a liquid centre that is trying to expand as it cools, but with nowhere for the expansion to go a process called ‘enthalpy of fusion’ is enabled as ever increasing pressures occur within the centre of the block. This creates gas bubbles, cracks and fissures inside its icy heart, waxy secretions burst out from the pressurised oil as its organic compounds struggle to freeze under the intense pressure created. 

copyright Ian Philips McLaren
here I am just a week after my return - portrait copyright 
Ian Philips McLaren 2015

 >>>   Thank you for reading, please lets stay connected.

>>>   discover more about my work here on the journal.

Oil shall form a natural alliance with its perceived opposite, water; pure and impure shall be intervened with and shaped into a co-existence within the same form making one indistinguishable from the other in their alliance. There are also metaphorical references for this location; Russian people are becoming ever more isolated with the current political dialogue and mass media stereotyping seen in the west; The borders are down but the barriers are up. This work is intended to represent human natures seeming inability to evolve beyond nationalism; we should be able to co-exist & mix seamlessly as an advanced civilisation. Instead we are unable to move beyond a point where one culture is accepted or even understood by the other, despite sharing this planet together.


‘Constellation’
unique chromogenic print
from the series ‘
Oil + Water
Siberia, 2015.


I shall again be working from a field studio hidden deep in the forest until spring returns in March 2022, working alone as before but this time I come prepared with 6 years of careful consideration of what passed before.


‘Ptolemy’
unique chromogenic print
from the series ‘
Oil + Water
Siberia, 2015.


ARTIST STATEMENT
My practice is driven by a lifelong interest in field observation, scientific discovery with a prominence in exploring the liquid mechanics of water. I believe it is my role to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large,  a crucial means for turning thinking into doing in the world; spanning sculpture, painting, photography, film, lighting and installation. Not limited by the architectural confines of the art world, my practice engages the broader public sphere through interventions within natural landscapes and civic spaces alike, arts education, policy-making, issues of sustainability and ecocide.

As an artist I aim to enable positive interventions while thinking of a more sustainable future. Photography is the primary tool I use to negotiate my idea of reality. I feel a responsibility to not contribute with purely aesthetic images; but rather to shake to the consciousness, to provide a reasoning for humanities deep need for a spiritual re-awakening with nature. It is the language of nature that guides me, Its texts were written far before our coming into being.

>>>   Thank you for reading, please lets stay connected.

>>>   discover more about my work here on the journal.


‘Eudoxus of Cnidus’

unique chromogenic print
from the series ‘
Oil + Water
Siberia, 2015.


‘Birthing Place’ unique chromogenic print from the series ‘Oil + Water’ Siberia, 2015.
‘Birthing Place’
unique chromogenic print
from the series ‘
Oil + Water
Siberia, 2015.