There is conjecture among geologists as to what ‘epoch’ we are currently in. The term epoch is a phrase used in geochronology to define a division of time, that is a subdivision of a geological ‘period’ and is itself then subdivided into ages. General consensus is that we are currently in the Holocene epoch, however many believe that we have actually entered a new epoch, the “Anthropocence”.
As a concept that comes from specialist scientific circles but which has much broader cultural applications, the Anthropocene retains a uniquely speculative nature. Though it has yet to be formally adopted by the geologic field’s various governing bodies, many argue that the profound impact man has made upon the Earth’s crust since the Industrial Revolution leaves little doubt that a significant boundary has been transgressed.
This is an idea being explored in the current exhibition A Stratigraphic Fiction, which is showing at the Berman Museum of Art. The exhibition features artwork by 10 international contemporary artists, whose combined work reflect the beauty, fear, contradictions and questions that come with forcefully etching ourselves into the language of stones.
Among those being featured is self-taught artist Laura Moriarty, whose sculptural paintings appear like relics of a bygone era; geological mysteries layered with multi-coloured rings. Moriarty creates her pieces by heating and cooling beeswax in a way that references natural erosion and weathering patterns.
“Layers of colour form the strata of a methodology in which the immediacy of the hand can translate a sense of deep time,” said Moriarty in her artist statement. “Working and reworking molten, richly pigmented beeswax, I build each painting/object through a slow, simple yet strenuous physical engagement, which often becomes a metaphor for the ephemerality of life and civilisation.”
A Stratigraphic Fiction is showing at the Berman Museum of Art, Philadelphia until March 19. More information can be found on their website.
You can see more of Moriarty’s art on her website
All images courtesy of Laura Moriarty