t: +353 1 222 5550
t: +353 1 222 5550
From the Hugh Lane Gallery Exhibition Archive 2010 #flashbackfriday returns to: The Golden Bough, Katie Holten.
Katie Holten is an Irish artist, self-proclaimed “resistance fighter” and environmental activist. At the root Holten’s practice is her commitment to study the inextricable relationship between humans and nature making her a perfect fit for our Golden Bough* programme. Katie is currently based in New York and very active in the Anti Trump campaign to expose the US president’s lies. She has previously collaborated with historians, geophysicists, musicians, botanists, ecologists, teachers, and architects, on projects as diverse as creating a temporary outdoor museum along a street in New York City or revealing the effects of climate change on weeds. Several years ago, recognizing a looming crisis of Language and Representation as our species adapts to life in the Anthropocene, Holten created a ‘Tree Alphabet’ and published the book ‘ABOUT TREES’ (2016), offering readers a language beyond the Human.
Holten responded to our invitation in a research process of what the ‘Golden Bough’ was and could be. Setting up her installation like a science laboratory and displaying her findings, “no one knows exactly as it takes many forms, but what was clear are the many systems that exist for interpreting the world”. Holten painted the walls of Gallery 8 in colours known as Cosmic Turquoise and Cosmic Latte. These colours were calculated by two astronomers Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry at John Hopkins University, Baltimore in search of the average colour of the universe taken from the light of stars and galaxies. Initially their findings concluded with an blue/green colour, to later find out that their calculations were incorrect and in fact the average colour was closer to a beige or milky coffee. Humanity continues to find meaning, to catalogue and control nature, much like the Golden Bough.
The exhibition included several drawings and sculptures related to the artist’s research of the Golden Bough and continued her exploration and ongoing interest in organic processes. “Art is a way to make sense of the world. For me, my work has always been a research project. I’m fascinated by how things work, always questioning things, trying to understand how one thing relates to another thing, where we fit into it all, trying to draw out underlying and/or invisible patterns that create meaning in all the seeming randomness. My work has always been political, but often not in a loud way. I like to leave everything open for the viewer to read themselves and come up with their own answers.”1
*Between 2008 and 2011, Head of Exhibitions, Michael Dempsey, invited twelve artists to respond on their own terms to the ideas gathered together by James George Frazer in a book titled 'The Golden Bough'. Collectively they were asked to question the systems and rituals developed by different societies in their attempts to understand and catalogue the meaning of their existence. They were brought into direct dialogue with the institutional and historical context of the Hugh Lane Gallery and its collection.
Katie Holten, born in Dublin in 1975. Solo museum exhibitions include the upcoming exhibition at Visual, Carlow (2020); New Orleans Museum of Art in New Orleans (2012); The Bronx Museum of the Arts (2009); Nevada Museum of Art (2008); Villa Merkel, Esslingen (2008) and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2007). Holten represented Ireland at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. From 2009 to 2010 Holten held the ‘Tree Museum’ public art project in the Bronx, New York. The ‘Tree Alphabet’ is available here to download and invites everyone to write a message in tree to send to the artist, with the aim of selecting some of the messages to plant in New York City. Holden was invited by the online publication Emergence Magazine to collaborate with American poet Forrest Gander to create the work ‘Forest’(2020) which can be viewed here.
Holten has a number of ongoing campaigns including ‘Friends of Ardee Bog’ to protect the inappropriate development of the N52 Ardee bypass and acknowledge the Ardee Bog as a site of National Ecological Importance, for more information you can visit here.
For more information please visit https://www.hughlane.ie/past/163-the-golden-bough-katie-holten and https://www.katieholten.com/
1 https://artistsandclimatechange.com/2019/04/04/an-interview-with-artist-katie-holten/ 14.04.20