Eveningness | Katie Paterson
Kunstverein & Stiftung Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen, Germany, 2014
‘People often say that I’m curious about too many things at once: botany, astronomy, comparative anatomy. But can you really forbid a man from harbouring a desire to know and embrace everything that surrounds him?’ Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859)
Katie Paterson is a seeker and a speculator. She asks questions, endlessly curious. Her work harnesses poetic thinking to advanced scientific enquiry to create beautiful, elegant and profound works of art. Paterson’s voice and sensibility are completely original and utterly contemporary – it is difficult to imagine a work such as 100 Billion Suns (2012) being made at any other moment than the present – yet her work is indebted to, or rather informed by, two important moments from the history of art. Firstly the Sublime, a notion first fully articulated in the mid-eighteenth century, which Paterson both subverts – using humour and absurdity – and exploits, creating a vertiginous sense of human relativity. The second is Conceptual art, a movement initiated in the 1960s in which the idea is the artwork, conceptual content taking primacy over material manifestation. Specifically, Paterson’s work forges connections with certain aspects of Land art, a form of Conceptual art that engaged with earth and landscape. This text explores the relationship of Paterson’s work to these two important precursors.