Lab: Empirical Evidence (postscript)

Writing this review for Bmore Art, I approached John Ruppert’s exhibition, Lab: Empirical Evidence, at UMBC, as I would any exhibition, as a new experience: with an open mind, and heart – because the environment has a very special place there for me.
But this time I was also ready to write.  Not just things of interest – I always carry a notebook with me – but the whole thing, my step-by-step experience of the work.  Writing down my observations, of the work, but also of my feeling towards it, my relationship like any new relationship morphed and changed as it grew, as the work answered everything I asked of it.
I wrote a first draft that accurately reflected my notes and emerging conscious experience and waited eagerly to see what my editor thought of it.  This was my first review and my first time working with an editor.  She appreciated the personal walk-through, the real-time thoughts and feeling, my sensitivity and curiosity, and vivid descriptions.  Oh dear, I thought, such praise can only be followed by a very large BUT……
The list of questions and ‘what?’s along the margins was staggering.  Is my writing really that intelligible?  And of course it is, or it can be, as writing for me is a way of working through something, trying to untangle the knots in a necklace that I know is underneath, I just don’t know what the pendent looks like or how long its chain is – yet.
When I start writing I have no idea where I’m going let alone where I will end up.  My notes were really just a stream of consciousness and my writing-up nothing more than a first response to this consciousness, drawing it out, seeing where it might lead.
I reviewed all my editors extremely valid and insightful comments one by one, happily clicking the resolve button. There was nothing to comment on because I agreed with her entirely.  But it got me thinking about the response that will be published, because in this editing process my experience of the work changed.  My thoughts towards the exhibition become not just clearer but different, in some cases completely turning feelings on their head.  And there is something in this transition that seems apt, relevant to the issue of climate change.
We all think we know how we feel about climate change, from both sides of the fence.  It is happening/it is not happening, we need to do something/there is nothing to be done.  But when we delve beneath the surface the reality and our feelings towards it are not quite so clear.  They are subject to change as we find out more.  Its like a never-ending jigsaw puzzle where just as the pieces fall into place they change their character and form, creating a new image in pieces for us to sort out, again.
I now feel like this about John Ruppert’s exhibition.  It perhaps requires many visits to get the full experience of our relationship to climate change.  To get it at once, to come to a conclusion, leads us into a false hope.  Climate Change is something we need to keep talking about, working through, if we are to get anywhere close to a resolution.

Singular Space – an encounter

photo jan 12, 2 48 12 pm

In an L-shaped gallery on North Avenue, Shannon Collis and Liz Donadio have recreated Miles Stafford Ralph’s 1975 Form Fountain.  The original, located at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School is at first glance a fair bit brighter than its virtual copy, more children’s playground than meditative space, and it seems at first that the artists have merely restored an outdated utopian vision.  But by inviting us into their meditative work, Collis and Donadio have brought to light what we overlook when we reduce public space to a photograph, framed, concrete and empty, and that is our encounters within it. Their multiple layered physical experience instead exceeds the original’s limited utopian vision, offering Form Fountain a relevant place not just in the present but also securing it a place in the future.

The first encounter with Singular Space appears as if you are approaching it from a distance, perhaps from across a road, a two-dimensionally framed view that hints at the physical space within.  The camera twists and turns pulling you in on the crest of a crashing wave, the sound of which turns out to be the flow of traffic in this hard-working city. And this is the beauty of Singular Space, just as the utopian soundscape and drifting images draw you in they quickly spit you out again, back to a physical reality.  The message is clear from the outset, this space is real, relevant and its yours.

Step around the corner and you find yourself on the verge of Singular Space. The shift is subtle.  Its not immediately clear what has happened until your eye catches shapes, strategically placed to catch images on their surfaces.  I find myself looking down, into, and get caught in the motion carried up some steps (or is it down?) through the monument.  Spend enough time here and you will notice the change in pace.  The movement is calmer, the sound lighter, giving way to bird song and what sounds like a drop of water.  An experience once grounded now has the quality of air but always looking towards that certain ground, the shifting plates that encourage you to move on and step in.

Which is what you do in the final act as your body interrupts the last of the five projections, your shadows cast, concrete, into the work. Even if you don’t choose to, you’ll find yourself there because this space is public space and it has been made for you.

Singular Space
Shannon Collis & Liz Donadio
Institute of Contemporary Art
16 West North Avenue, Baltimore, MD

psychological geographies

Using the material world as catalyst for the projection of unconscious contents, each work aims to amplify primitive feminine knowledge which is seen as both suppressed and the means by which we can begin to heal the world’s wounds.


Spirit Lake/Kirk Wall video installation
SLUICE: Exchange Berlin, November 2018


“Elaine Fisher explores archetypal questions about femininity, soul and nature in her installation, ‘Spirit Lake’.  Reduced video works of a falling leaf and a crow in flight presented on two monitors on an upper and a lower level, a conscious and a subconscious level, draw the viewer into the dream”

“The atmosphere of the sinister ice lake is impressively evoked by the artist’s reduced, dominating white……a deliberately disturbing sound installation in which you can hear the sound of a crow in slow motion…….the two works are mutually dependent……The installation calms and troubles at the same time.”

review by for Chased Magazine, Berlin click here 
review by click here for complete text (English)

(re)making notes

The (re)making of Spirit Lake highlighted a significantly expanded role for the primitive right hemisphere as both pre-conscious originator (the impulse to video a tree in the wind and the unknown ‘gift’ of a falling leaf), ambiguous collector (the pre-conscious association of flying crow and falling leaf) and active responder to the limitations of consciousness (creative solutions emerged in response to failed attempts to solidify a messy background; a mis-click added the unknown ‘gift’ of a panning function).  In neuro-science the left hemisphere is a (noisy?) processor, constantly referring data back to (agitating a response from?) the right hemisphere for further creative output.  In these terms we can perhaps more hopefully view the role of Trickster (Crow/Raven) in the world (through Kirk Wall) as an opportunity for renewed and focussed creative action.

psychological geographies

Spirit Lake/Kirk Wall forms part of a wider body of work, Creation Myths, completed at Aside Gallery and Studios, 1501 Guilford Avenue, aka The CopyCat Building. 1501 Guilford Avenue has come to be synonymous with the owner of its former roof top billboard (The Copycat Printing Company) despite being home to many different manufacturing industries at that time.  Part of Baltimore’s artistic community since the 1980s, the Copycat Building continues to struggle to recognise its inner life, caught as it is between a desire to legitimise artist live/work studios and a legal black hole that is not able to facilitate a zoning change.

Kirk Wall was filmed on the ruined site of the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall, Orkney. In the early 1600s Lord Orkney decided that the existing Bishop’s Palace was inadequate for his needs.  He extended the complex by building a new Earl’s Palace on the adjoining Land which he acquired by fabricating charges and trying and executing the current owner for theft.

Spirit Lake was filmed on the shores of Grand Lake, Colorado.  Given the name batan-naache (meaning Holy Lake or Spirit Lake) by the Arapaho Indians, Grand Lake is also the site of The Legend of the Buffalo, a supernatural beast seen emerging from a hole of open water at the centre of the ice-covered lake in winter.  In Ute Indian tradition the lake is “bad medicine”.  During an attack by an Arapahoe/Cheyenne Indian war party, women and children found refuge on a raft cast out into the lake.  A  curiously strong wind raised a monstrous wave which capsized the raft and all were drowned.  When the lake freezes over in the winter, it is said that one can hear the urgent cries of the women and children beneath the surface.

psychological geography is a term used by Marie Louise Von Franz in her book Creation Myths to describe certain constellations of the landscape that serve to catalyze the projection of inherited archetypal patterns of representation.  Thus we find in landscape ‘fitting places’ for certain deeds, fantasies and ideas (1972 revised 1995 Shambhala Publications p317).  In contrast to Von Franz’s phenomenal (and feminine?) psychological geography, Psychogeography, a term coined by Guy Debord in 1955, has developed into a (masculine?) cause and effect pathology where geochemical profiles, geomagnetic variations and tectonic stresses are identified as causes of schizophrenia, epidemics of unusual behaviours and psychosis.


SLUICE: exchange Berlin


a weekend of exhibitions, performances, talks & screenings 16 – 18 November Kühlhaus, Luckenwalder Straße 3, 10963 Berlin

Sluice Exchange is a biennial expo bringing together galleries and projects that share similar foundational ideologies of independence and artistic engagement. I will be showing work as part of OSR Projects Weather Station with Simon Lee Dicker, Laura Hopes and Alexander Stevenson.

EXCHANGE is broadly themed around the local as transnational ideas battle re-emergent nationalistic tendencies. The artist/curator-led scene is often tied to the local (usually influenced by funding parameters or lack of funding altogether). But there is often an awareness that if the local isn’t positioned within a broader inter/national context that it risks becoming parochial. EXCHANGE BERIN focuses on the importance of solidarity, inclusion and collaboration. Is there a way to square internationalism with the destructive nature of globalisation? As nationalism rears its head around the world what response does art have?


open studio

Original drawings made while you wait and canvas drawings available to order from my current investigation Creation Myths 


Saturday, October 13 & Sunday, October 14 10am-6pm

Aside Gallery & Studios
Copycat Building
1501 Guilford Ave
Baltimore, MD 21202
DM instagram @elaineyfish



Open Studio Tour is an annual city-wide event organised by School 33 Art Centre.  Each year, collectors and art lovers have the opportunity to visit artists in their studios, see their work, and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their working processes.

On Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14, visit the studios of more than 100 artists located throughout Baltimore City to view and purchase their original works of art, including paintings, sculptures and photographs during this self-guided tour.

reliable objects

reliable objects_2_22x28in 13.36.05

Reliable Objects II (Baltimore)

We only become aware that home is the psychological foundation of human experience when it is disturbed and we are disorientated.  Reliable objects draws our attention to the drive to re-make home and asks what happens when disturbing objects become the reliable things we want to reassemble.

Reliable Objects II will be exhibited in One Gun Gone: thoughts and prayers are not enough Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts 18 Oct – 9 Nov

to pierce a crow’s eye

Photo Aug 10, 3 07 36 PM
Orkney Crow (2018)
I have been drying and peeling fruit stones.  I have photographed an avocado boat.  I have dipped into the water with the oar of a Canadian Canoe and touched Lily, Lotus, searching for the rhizome below.  I found what I didn’t know I was seeking in the bulbous lignotuber of the Arbutus which here is a protected Oak, a place where native objects have been carefully buried (for future use?)
Crow looms over the process, casting its eye.  Crow is Raven, the First Nation Trickster, seemingly stupid, irrational and untrustworthy, yet providing the necessary agitation that enables access to an ancient store of knowledge.
The Trickster abounds in contemporary politics because there is much to learn, much that we have lost in our contemporary experience.  The Trickster is not the way but resonates at our deepest level and causes us to act on our primitive knowing so that a way forward can be found.  The Trickster points to all that is wrong, delighting in it so that we can ignore it no longer; dancing naked on our collective wounds, defecating on our public monuments.  Turning a blind eye to the Trickster enables our wounds, our monumental disasters to dig in, deeper.  Confronting Him with logic merely feeds the frenzy.  We need to watch and learn from His mistakes, for in His doing is the key to Her undoing.
Crow provides access to the deep and a way out again, pecking over the old dark bones so that they can re-emerge gleaming from the dark to light our way.
(“to pierce a crow’s eye” is a Roman saying for something thought impossible to do ref. Mayberry and Kramer eds. 2007 The Cryptopedia: A dictionary of the weird, strange and downright bizarre)