A. Laurie Palmer’s research-based art practice explores matter’s active nature on a range of scales and speeds. Her work taps into and collaborates with material forces and constructs situations and structures that invite consideration of our own capacities and agencies. She has most recently focused on how we use and share land and other natural resources, specifically through an extended investigation of industrial mineral extraction sites and the movements of substances between land and bodies. The title of the exhibition Still, yet, else, further, again, refers to synonyms found on the Internet for “more,” which as a set of terms with questionable similarity elicits what German Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch calls the “Not Yet.” In other words, “more” stands in for a state of “comprehended hope” for a transformed world, the seeds for which are embedded in the present but not yet developed.
Still, yet, else, further, again features two works, “Hole,” an immersive sculptural installation in the main gallery and “794 mph,” a single channel video projection. “Hole” is built up from stacked circular layers of cut and joined re-used lumber, each layer having a progressively wider circumference. Visitors can choose to be lifted up and into the hole, by a counter-weight hoist system. This system, designed by Chicago Fly House, employs a 400 pound limestone and calcite rock from the local Bolingbrook quarry as counterweight to elevate a person safely strapped into a chair high enough to see over the lip of the hole. The system requires one person to manually work the chainfall to hoist another person in the chair. Literally starting with the holes punctured in our environment by corporations like BP, the experience of “Hole” establishes an equation between ore and body referencing the circles of increasing complexity related to human/nature interactions, unregulated growth and over-consumption, as well as spatial and temporal expansion.
“794 mph,” makes a different demand on the viewers’ experience with time, space, and the waiting future: willingness to slow down. Referring to the speed that the earth turns at the latitude where the footage was shot in Santa Cruz, CA, in 2010 and 2012, the long shots of night becoming morning in the video unfold at the actual speed of earth turning. While seeming fast at 794 mph, the viewers’ experience is in fact very slow, with each shot requiring between 15 to 45 minutes, marking a non-spectacular temporality.
A. Laurie Palmer’s work takes various forms as sculpture, public projects, writing, and interdisciplinary collaborations. She has shown, lectured, and published nationally and internationally since 1988, both independently and with the artist collaborative Haha, and has received generous foundation and institutional support, including from the Louis Tiffany Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council, the Richard M. Driehaus Foundation, the ArtCouncil (now Artadia) and the Radcliffe Institute. Around the year 2000, she began to focus her individual practice on local projects relating to land-use. The book 3 Acres on the Lake: DuSable Park Proposal Project, published by WhiteWalls Press in 2004, documents a public art project and exhibition related to these concerns. In 2008, WhiteWalls published With Love from Haha documenting twenty years of Haha’s site-based work, and also marking the end of that long-term collaboration. For the last five years she has been researching and writing a book on industrial mineral extraction sites in the U.S. and the movements of substances between land and bodies (Eating the Earth), which is now on review. She has returned to the studio to work on sculptural projects related to this ongoing research, and to other considerations of matter’s active nature and explorations of our collective capacities for change.
A. Laurie Palmer studied English literature and studio art at Williams College as an undergraduate, and completed her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1988 in printmaking and sculpture. She has taught full time at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at Carnegie Mellon University, and part-time at the University of Chicago, UIC, and Vermont College. For the last fifteen years she has taught sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also was an art writer for ten years.