Anthotype, collage, sound and poetry
Rosie Benn, Helen Emily Davy, Elizabeth Ward
The collective project Underland set up a root cellar in the sky, in the attic of the VBKÖ, Vienna, creating a place to gather and collect nutrients for the times ahead. Vegetables and flowers that had been thrown away were gathered each night from a markets rubbish bin and brought to the gallery. In this setting, the plants became a pallet of colours as they were transformed into paste and then used to dye paper for anthotype. Anthotype is a process of cameraless photography based on the photosensitive material from plants in combination with the exposure or deprivation of sunlight. This process was originally invented by Mary Somerville who presented her research to Sir John Herschel (who is often misquoted as the inventor) in 1842. The project Underland was a research environment which considered disappearing and reappearing women, as well as regenerative practices. Interested in the figure of the Vanishing Woman* as an archetype for possibility, a figure that slips in and out of both our vision and comprehension. She* alone is able to pass through the portal to see another world upon which we can only speculate. In the first recorded instance of this disappearing magic act in 1886, the assistant Mlle. Patrice stated she wished to be sent to Arcadia, an idyll of harmony with nature. If the glamorous assistant could speak, what lessons could she tell us from the other side? What news from beyond the veil. Underland reflected on ‘apocalypse’ in the original Greek meaning ἀποκάλυψις. Here apocalypse means ‘revelation’ and ‘an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling’. Part of our time together was holding space for hopes and fears during the unfolding of now. Taking inspiration from Robert Macfarlane’s book titled Underland, we are interested in the personal as well as the societal element of that which is under.
Underland is a research collective composed of artists and thinkers Rosie Benn, Helen Emily Davy, and Elizabeth Ward. We meet through a shared interest in where ecological and artistic practices intertwine.
With contributions from and thanks to Nina Fellows, Golnaz Bashiri, Monica C Locascio, Julia Müllner and Christopher Bond
Thanks to the VBKÖ for hosting us in within the portal