14 January – 19 April 2020
You enter a shifting landscape. The tectonic plates are moving beneath you. What can you hear?
Plates is based on field work undertaken in Ethiopia and Northern Ireland by artist Rachel Pimm (b. 1984, Zimbabwe) with a soundtrack by Lori E. Allen (b. 1975, USA). For this commission, the artists create a visual and sonic topography with words, images and sounds that have been collected from an archive of self-similar images of biological, geological and physical matter. The space becomes an index of ‘plates’, representing materials located around volcanic landscapes such as the Giants Causeway (Northern Ireland) and the Afar Triangle (Ethiopia), geological sites where minerals, salts and lava boil to the crust making dynamic, continually fluctuating landscapes.
Pimm’s reading of landscape and its patterns renders visible a perpetual state of erosion and flux. Non-human agents such as plants, funghi, minerals as well as mathematical forces take a central position. Challenging patriarchal frameworks of scientific study and embedding queer sensibilities in the reading of ‘natural history’ Pimm questions how language and words define and control the environment.
Drawing on a year as Whitechapel Gallery Writer in Residence that unfolded through a series of live performances, readings and eatings – Disintegration, Tessellation and the forthcoming Aggregation – the artist reflects on the relationship between neo-colonialism and ecology and hierarchies of being, speaking-for and listening-to.
The Whitechapel Gallery
Thurs 20 Feb, 7pm
The artist is joined in conversation by Geographer Amy Donovan on the politics embedded in geology and how new readings of the environment are essential to reframing our relationship to the earth.
Thu 26 Mar, 7pm
Rachel Pimm is joined by special guest readers Jennifer Boyd and Katrina Black for a staged reading of collected texts on landscapes.
Rachel Pimm (b. 1984, Harare, lives in London) works in sculpture, video and performance to explore environments and their materialities, histories and politics often from the point of view of non-human agents such as plants, minerals, worms, water, gravity or rubber. They are interested in the potential of surfaces and matter to transform. Their work has been included in recent programmes including Hales Gallery, Jerwood Space, ANDOR, Tenderpixel and Chisenhale Gallery, The Royal Academy and Serpentine Gallery (all London 2014-2019) as well as internationally in Europe and the USA. They have an MFA from Goldsmiths and lecture in Fine Art at Camberwell College.
Lori E. Allen (b. 1975 St. Louis, USA, lives in London) is a sound artist and experimental composer working in sound, performance, video and text. Allen holds an MA in Archaeology from UCL, a BA in Anthropology and Classical Studies from NYU, and a partial completion of an Msc in Psychology Music and Neuroscience from Goldsmiths.
Their work explores cultural relationships with mass media and personal boundaries around love, pain, duty, and tolerance. Publications include both solo commissions and collaboration cassettes for The Tapeworm, a vinyl release on Wormhole, and commissioned performances in Tate Modern’s South Tanks, Chisenhale Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, The Science Museum (London) and Glasgow’s CCA; soundtrack work currently on display at the Royal College of Physicians and a video on Boiler Room 4:3.
Allen has collaborated with Rachel Pimm on several Pimm led projects since 2015 including worming out of shit, Distintegration, S, and Hg; as well as an ongoing collaboration with the electro-acoustic trio Tears|Ov.