Liljana Mead Martin. the ground doesn’t wander. 2021.
Heat treated tinted acrylic. Courtesy of Wil Aballe Art Projects.
Photo by Steven Cottingham.
Liljana Mead Martin is a visual artist based in Vancouver, British Columbia, working primarily in sculpture. Her work explores themes of deep time, cultivation and evolution to highlight speculative adaptations within dark ecologies and toxic habitats.
In recent work Martin considers the reciprocity between bodies and land, creating sculptures which depict speculative lifeforms emerging from devastated environmental conditions – conditions increasingly transitioning from science fiction into shared reality.
Martin’s work has been exhibited at The Klondike Institute for Arts and Culture (Dawson City Yukon Territory), Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto Island ON), CSA Space (Vancouver), Nanaimo Art Gallery (Vancouver Island), Wil Aballe Art Projects (Vancouver), Zalucky Contemporary (Toronto), NADA House Governor’s Island (NYC), and BIOMASS (worldwide).
LILJANA MEAD MARTIN email: liljanameadmartin [@] gmail [.] com IG: liljana_mead
2022. Charred maple, blue moonstones, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments.
First presented at NADA House, Governor’s Island, NY. Exhibition details can be seen in the digital catalog,here.
Sink Or Shiver is a series of five sculptures presented as part of a three person exhibition at Zalucky Contemporary in 2022. The series is composed of fire charred pine, a wide range of electric pigments mixed by the artist, and resin. The forms cast from the artists body, are comprised of hands cupping bent knees and carved holes in the charred wood surfaces. The hollow shells in multi-coloured resins, become egg-like emergences bubbling out of the charred wood. At each end of the charred pine strands, carved tips mimic skate or shark eggs, also called ‘mermaids purse’.
“ The artists assembled here perform various forms of alchemy to explore the inner life of things. Their work exalts the inherent mutability of matter, the constant state of becoming that might not always be perceptible to the naked eye. Employing the corrosive power of salt, the destructive energy of fire and the transformative effects of vapour, they attempt to bear witness to the ‘changefulness’ of inanimate objects and how, in that state of flux, new forms of knowing can emerge.”
Laura Hudspith, Liljana Mead Martin & Lee Henderson Vessels, Orbs and Pyrophytic Pods June 4, 2022 - July 2, 2022. Documentation by Laura Findlay.
Mod Thermal (Detail) , 2022, charred wood, resin, pigments, 60 x 5.5 x 4 inches
Sink Or Shiver. 2022. charred wood, resin, pigments.
(Left) Mod Thermal, 2022, charred wood, resin, pigments, 60 x 5.5 x 4 inches (Right) Ancient Risk, 2022, charred wood, resin, pigments, 60 x 5.5 x 4 inches
Pyrophytic Pod, 2022, charred wood, resin, pigments, 19.75 x 5.5 x 3.5 inches
Sea Weed. 2022. 26”H x 5.5” x 3.25”D. Charred wood, resin, pigments.
Sea Weed (detail),2022. 26”H x 5.5” x 3.25”D. Charred wood, resin, pigments.
In Deep Thirst BioOrchestra, Liljana Mead Martin imagines a new botanical species, the first returners of a fire-scorched landscape. This niche ecosystem takes on hybrid characteristics of humans and plants, as ears and other appendages amalgamate with mycelium and carnivorous pitcher plant forms. They sprout and drip out of charred branches in fluorescent colours, mimicking the electric hues of thermal gradient maps, highlighting connections between temperature and inhabitability.
Within this atmosphere, the BioOrchestra produces colour as though it were sound, suggesting excretions to attract life. As a result of their emergence from drought, their sensory based digestive systems are dehydrated and in a constant state of thirst. Conductor Cues a Blaze signals an attempt to connect with destroyed aspects of our environment. Cast in several mineral layers, a pair of hands frozen in gesture rests inside the concave hollow of a fire scorched log. This terrain of the BioOrchestra is a space where life comes forth despite the deathblows of storms, fires and droughts, but it is life altered. It’s existence relies on the ways in which it is non-human, the conductor’s gesture is low and still. Instead of making music, the BioOrchestra listens for it.
BioOrchestra; Paleo Blue to Acid Yellow, 2021, Fire charred arbutus wood, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments, brass, pins, clear and blue moonstones.
BioOrchestra; Paleo Blue to Acid Yellow, Detail. 2021, Charred wood, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments, brass, pins, clear and blue moonstones.
BioOrchestra; Paleo Blue to Amino Green, 2021, Charred wood, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments, brass, pins, clear and blue moonstones.
BioOrchestra; Paleo Blue to Amino Green, Detail. 2021, Charred wood, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments, blue moonstones.
BioOrchestra; Paleo Blue rising to Amino Green, 2021. Charred wood, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments, clear moonstones.
BioOrchestra; Paleo Blue rising to Amino Green, 2021. Detail. Charred wood, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments, clear moonstones.
Conductor Cues a Blaze, 2021. Charred wood, hydrostone, black sand, charcoal, dry pigments, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments, tubing.
Conductor Cues a Blaze. 2021, Charred wood, hydrostone, black sand, charcoal, dry pigments, polyurethane resin, flourescent pigments, tubing.
March 6th - April 10th, 2021 Wil Aballe Art Projects | WAAP Vancouver | waapart.com
Polyurethane rubber, florescent pigment, brass stem, glass beads, charred wood. 2021. Courtesy of Wil Aballe Art Projects, photographs by Mike Love.
Exhibition Press Release Geophilia is a solo exhibition of new work by Liljana Mead Martin that queries the possibility of ever fully knowing the places we seek to love. Martin’s works are visceral in their tactility and bear the trace of her hybrid interests in sculpture and choreography. Hers is a practice of coming to know and unknow through touch, by probing limits and testing the pliability of the world around her. An examination of traces and fragments are key to this new series, which continues the artist’s investigation into the circulation of energy and the erosion of time.
The Listener (2021) is a charred tree trunk laid horizontally, knotted on one end by a tightly bound root bundle. New growths appear to be sprouting forth out of this nurse log in the form of brass stems and surreal fluorescent petals, with delicately flowering heads cast from the artist’s ear. Feeders (2021) is an accumulation of spiny pinchers, fingery protrusions amassed in a crowded formation that resemble barnacles. Conical mounds budding skywards, Drifting flex (2021) consists of bent elbows poised as though readied to unfurl. Throughout Geophilia, the body is understood as a tool that creates an imprint on the earth, whilst simultaneously assuming postures that mimic various forms of life. Disinterested in anthropomorphizing the botanical or the geological, Martin is instead devoted to new ways of being in relation with the surrounding environment. If terraforming is the process of making earth habitable for humans, Martin proposes an opposite action: remaking humanness in order to accommodate the feeling world. Her works directly challenge any presumption of the world as unfeeling, inanimate, or unconscious.
The sculptures are gestural in their grasping, caressing, overflowing, caving inwards or hollowing out. Frequently, Martin casts hands that evoke digging movements, but she also buries things inside her casts: sand, soil, juniper, and dried flowers, as well as insulation, plastics, fungicide and scrap metals. This process of worlding is not purist, but grapples with the contemporary realities of toxicity and contamination. Taken together, the complex material accretions are attentive to overlapping and entirely incompatible lifespans, contradictions that can make a place so difficult to know.
BIOMASS looks at art through the lifecycle of material and energy. Artists consider their practices in highly dimensional ways, BIOMASS brings these realities and nuances to the fore through featured works and dialogues on practice.
The term biomass is used most often within the energy industry, typically to describe forms of burnable “waste” material used to create heat and electricity. The term’s origins are more overt, bio means life, mass means volume. From these two meanings we find a charged yet expanded perspective through which to experience art and its making.
Exhibition interview excerpt: “ This year I began a new body of research, stemming from a curiosity in west coast forests and some zoning terminology called the Wildland Urban Interface or WUI zones. It’s basically a transition zone between what is considered wildland and new areas of human development, often these are on the fringes of more densely populated areas, in wilder areas. Communities in these zones are very vulnerable to wildfires and in simple terms their presence disrupts an existing ecology. But it’s complicated, because as cities become more expensive people want to have their own space - causing drift and sprawl in areas that can’t necessarily sustain that many people. I mean, it takes tons of energy and resources to extend the grid. I was drawing from that research to create these works that suggest architectural shapes, specifically thresholds to homes or buildings.”