READING THE RIVER

A Retropsective Exhibition of Basia Irland's Artwork

Museum De Domijnen, Roel Arkesteijn, Curator

Sittard, the Netherlands, November 2015 - February 2016

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A lifelong passion for books and water is the common thread that runs throughout Basia Irland’s consistent oeuvre. The objects are often reliquaries of actions. They contain the memories of participatory projects that bear witness to the global interconnectedness of different cultures. During international treks along rivers the Gathering of Waters series originated as a way to connect a multitude of community groups and focus on collaborative and locally based actions encompassing an ethic of inclusion. The Gathering projects result in portable Backpack/Repositories in which the knowledge and experience of waterways are assembled.

 

Irland brings attention to life-endangering diseases found in contaminated water in her series of Waterborne Disease Scrolls created during stays in India, Nepal and Egypt.

 

Since 2007 Irland has been making Ice Receding/Books Reseeding, ephemeral, time-based sculptures carved from ice and embedded with a “text” consisting of local native seeds. The sculptures contribute to the ecological restoration of riparian zones when the books are launched into the stream, and as they melt the seeds are released. In September 2015 she created a series of Ice Books that were launched into the River Maas near Born and into the Geleenbeek at Sweikhuizen.

 

The artist also made a group of new river sculptures, Contemplation Stations, sited near water, which can be visited at locations near Sittard. Another Contemplation Station is located within the museum at the end of a long reflecting pool of water with stepping-stones. Above, within the darkened space, hang four suspended salt encrusted boats.

 

After sunset, a video piece addressing climate change, entitled Below, can be seen in the windows on the front façade of the museum.

 

In conjunction with the exhibition, a publication, Reading the River: The Ecological Activist Art of Basia Irland, was produced. In addition, the Museum De Domijnen commissioned a new limited-edition print, River Reverie, that is available for purchase from the museum.

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