The Challenger's Report is the first UK solo exhibition by Argentinian artist Irene Kopelman, which looks at how relationships to landscape and the natural world are culturally conditioned and subject to change.
Kopelman's work is rooted in drawing in situ and guided by laboured processes of copying and re-production which reveal a fascination with landscape and the act of looking. Borrowing patterns from nature or techniques of observation and classification from the history of science, her drawing, painting and sculpture is characterised by imperfections that foreground the conditions (cramped, dusty, rainy, etc.) of its making. Inspired by the expeditions of renowned explorers such as Ernest Shackleton, her work is founded upon empirical research carried out in the field or in naturalist archives and collections.
The Challenger's Report centres on how acts of looking are mediated by culture, invention or circumstance. The title refers to the Challenger expedition of 1872-76, the discoveries of which laid the foundations of modern oceanography. The exhibition includes a newly commissioned series of large-scale paintings of microfossils brought back from the Antarctic plate following Robert Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition of 1910, and now held at the Natural History Museum in London. These are presented alongside La morfologia del paisaje determina sus vistas (The Morphology of the Landscape Determines its Views, 2011) - an installation composed of drawings and a fired clay bas relief of canyons in Southern Brazil - and a hand-made replica of a graphic telescope, an early 19th century optical instrument. Kopelman has worked with outdated curiosities such as this for a number of years, keen to rediscover how they gave rise to particular conventions of seeing and ways of interpreting the natural world.
The exhibition is accompanied by a series of events and workshops taking place at Gasworks and at the Natural History Museum, London.
COLLECTIONS TOUR: The Natural History Museum
Friday 10 February 11am and 2pm
Dr Giles Miller, Curator of Vertebrates and Micropalaeontology at the Natural History Museum, leads two tours of the Micropalaeontology collections, inviting participants to take a closer look at a world we can't usually see. Booking is essential as places are limited. Please email email@example.com. This event takes place at the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD
TALK: Irene Kopelman
Thursday 15 March 6.30 – 8pm
Irene Kopelman introduces her practice and speaks about the development of The Challenger's Report at Gasworks, offering an insight into her research and working process.
WORKSHOP: The Graphic Telescope
Saturday 14 April 2 – 4pm
Tiemen Cocquyt, Professor of Optics and Curator at the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden (The Netherlands), leads a workshop centred around the graphic telescope – an optical instrument developed by British artist and inventor Cornelius Varley in 1807 – a replica of which is displayed as part of the exhibition. Booking is essential as places are limited. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Irene Kopelman's recent exhibitions include: the 8th Mercosul biennial (2011); Homo Ludens – Act II, Motive Gallery, Amsterdam, NL (2011), 50 Metres Distance Or More, Labor Gallery, Mexico DF (2011), El Vuelo de Levy (The Levy's Flight), Montehermoso Art Centre, Vitoria-Gasteiz SP (2009), and an installation at Outline, Amsterdam, NL (2008).
This exhibition is made possible with the generous support of Catherine Petitgas and the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam. La morfologia del paisaje determina sus vistas was produced for the 8th Mercosul Visual Arts Biennial with thanks to Fundação Bienal do Mercosul, the Ministério da Cultura and the Governo do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul.