“We are still learning about the persistence of lifeforms declared extinct or obsolescent, still learning to walk away from the tyranny of a single timeline, to recognise all that this way of telling left out. There is hope here, though not the kind we may have hoped for. Worlds end, and ours is no different, but if the Fall is the season of endings, it is also apple time, and there are seeds that want our hands to pick, to carry and to plant.”
WALKING IN THE VOID is a collaboration between Dougald Hine (co-founder of a school called HOME) and the glass artists Baldwin & Guggisberg.
For their solo exhibition at the Glass Museum at Ebeltoft, Denmark, Monica Guggisberg and Philip Baldwin created twelve installations that revolve around the nested cycles of life on a turning planet, the role of catastrophe within Earth’s history, and the fragility of our human situation.
A year of conversations between the three of us fed into the making of the artwork and gave rise to THE ASTEROID: An Anthropocene Whodunnit, an essay in twelve short chapters, born out of our shared fascinations, tracing stories that pass through the orbit of these installations. The result is a 144-page book in which Christoph Lehmann’s stunning colour photographs of Monica and Philip’s artwork combine with Dougald’s words to create an artefact that will outlast the exhibition itself.
This is a book that starts with shards: the smashed glass that bookends the timeline at the core of the exhibition, and the fragments out of which archaeology assembles its lines of best fit. The depiction of history as a timeline is a modern one, an assertion of human confidence at a moment when the geological discovery of Deep Time had shaken the foundations of anthropocentrism.
“What happens to the posters on the classroom walls, the history that was meant to lead us to the future, when the line they were following begins to fray? No longer a means of vindication, they begin to look more like a trail of evidence. History as whodunnit: a mystery in which all of us are suspects.”
This trail takes us by strange routes, to the role of glass as a philosophical tool, transforming our relationship to the cosmos, and the history of bottles from the workshops of Syrian glassmakers in the first century BCE to a technological breakthrough in the 1970s that made possible plastic containers for carbonated drinks. We wonder at the origins of the seven-day week and the astronomical ‘cathedral on a hill’ excavated at Göbekli Tepe. The work of the Iraqi artist Rashad Salim brings us to Elizabeth Fisher’s ‘carrier bag theory of human evolution’.
In the time of the Anthropocene, there’s plenty of talk about how human history has become geological history. ‘WE ARE THE ASTEROID’ announce the LED signs erected at locations around the world by the American artist Justin Brice Guariglia. But who is this ‘WE’, and how does this way of talking relate to the singular human trajectory once charted on those classroom timelines?
‘Hine’s essay accompanying the images of the show provides a lyrical and incisive element which makes this art book something more – a reflection on the proverbial “rock and a hard place” in which civilisation so dramatically finds itself today.’ — Le Stanze Del Vetro
“And all of this takes place in one short moment in the life of an Earth whose age we can hardly conceive, except as an empty number, as we are held within a weave of worlds, the whole spinning light show, dancing its way through the void.”
Beautifully designed, 144-page book, richly illustrated with colour images.
Softcover and with a gatefold illustrating ‘The Timeline’.
Essay in twelve parts by Dougald Hine.
Foreword by Sandra Blach, essays by Philip Baldwin & Monica Guggisberg and Pia Strandbygaard Bittner.
Texts in English.
Graphic design: Lower East.
Published by Glasmuseet Ebeltoft 2020.