Installation view

Helen Mirra »*«

Stockholm, May 24, 2018 - June 21, 2018

This is my fifth exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake; the title of the show is an asterisk. I’ve been thinking about asterisks lately, both as typographic marks and as actual small stars in the sky (asterisk being the diminutive of aster [star]). As a symbol it is particularly multivalent: it can been used in proofreading to mark repetition, it is sometimes enlisted simply for emphasis, and it can serve as a verb as well as noun. In linguistics it indicates a word that has no historical record of use, and it has many applications in mathematics. While most often in writing it refers to a reference outside the main text, it sometimes stands for omitted matter which is not presented elsewhere; this is perhaps my favorite usage.

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We are showing a group of recent small works made mostly with Swedish linen, and some earlier drawings. I am also installing little round mirrors (i.e. asterisks) over the course of walking-days in Tyresta Nationalpark.

The drawings are stencils from a public project made at the University of Chicago in 2006. That project takes the form of brief segments of text, each a single index entry, painted directly on the wall in locations dispersed throughout the academic buildings of the university campus. (e.g., “Illusion, the occurrence of illusions is not an, 20”.) The index entries were written through from two books by authors closely connected to the histories of the University of Chicago and the city of Chicago: John Dewey's "Experience and Nature" (1925) and Jane Addams' "Newer Ideals of Peace" (1907). Dewey and Addams were close colleagues and friends. Both were motivated by a progressive, politically-committed community engagement, and they each realized far-reaching experiments coordinating various forms of knowledge. In their approaches to the world, neither Dewey nor Addams saw problems as separable or isolated; instead, they were guided by a principle of integration. Whether decontextualized in the liminal spaces of stairwells and hallways and encountered during routine movement through the university, or as the stencils which may live anywhere, the mined texts behave not as signifiers referring back to their source texts, but instead point out into the world at large.

In 2016 I moved to a coastal bluff near San Francisco in Northern California, near the foot of Mt Tamalpais. My current routine, with exceptions, is alternating days of walking around Tamalpais’ three modest peaks, and weaving in the studio. The weavings aren’t descriptions or illustrations of the walkings, but rather are informed by them. Most have a chance-determined structure, a two-color warp and a single-color weft, and “seven paths vertical and eight paths horizontal”.* Many are ‘of the fog’, which is familiar weather. One is more or less a copy of a shirt that I wear in deference to André Cadere, who often wore a striped sailor shirt. I’m calling them weavings though I think of them as small sculptures – and I don’t call them small sculptures because that might be confusing. Maybe they are what the asterisk points to.

– HM

  • “…all mountains walk with their toes on all waters / and splash there / thus in walking there are seven paths vertical and eight paths horizontal…” (Dōgen Zenji’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra (1240)

March, 2017, linen, wool, 34.5 x 23.5 cm

February, 2018, linen, 46 x 30 cm

March – April, 2018, linen, 41 x 26 cm

Railroad, 1999, ink and milk on cotton, 1.6 x 200 cm

Railroad, 1999, detail

Railroad, 1999, detail

Spark Drawing (Events), 2006, graphite on paper, 25.5 x 94 cm, 42.5 x 111.5 cm framed

April – May, 2018, linen, 45.5 x 30 cm

January, 2018, linen, wool, 37 x 27 cm

Spark Drawing (Illusion), 2006, graphite on paper, 18 x 77.5 cm, 32.5 x 92 cm framed

Installation view

Potrero Meadow, 2016, linen, alpaca, 23.5 x 29 cm

Installation view

August, Muir, 2017, linen, wool, 47 x 31 cm

Spark Drawing (Reference), 2006, graphite on paper, 12.5 cm x 74.5 cm, 32.5 x 90.5 cm framed

Lightning, 2016, linen, lichen-dyed wool, 27.5 x 26.5 cm

December, 2017, linen, 52 x 28.5 cm