Synopses & Reviews
Helen Mirra, born in 1970 in Rochester, New York, creates work from simple materials--including worn clothing and wood recovered from transportation palettes--at the intersection of influences including Arte Povera and Fluxus. She also writes, and for the past few years her writing has come in the form of indexes. Dislocated from a source text, the entries, lettered on long strips of cloth tape that resemble typewriter ribbons, unspool into the world at large. Like clash, 247, her index to a volume of William James essays, this volume tracks words and ideas through John Dewey's Reconstruction in Philosophy (1920). If the original text, in this case, is largely about the conceptualization of ideas, Mirra's index is a materialization of conceptualization, under the auspices of a spare poetics. Mirra, who had a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2002 and participated in the 2003 Venice Biennale, also teaches at Harvard University.
Edited by Christoph Keller. Text by Lyn Hejinian.
Edge Habitat Materials is a survey of all works made by Helen Mirra between 1995 and 2009, together with three accompanying texts. In his essay on walking as minimal aesthetic practice, Bradin Cormack places Mirraand#8217;s walks and the overlapping exhibitions that variously index them in the context of her earlier indexical works, in proximity to a range of literary engagements with walking as a form of environmental belonging, and in contact with a philosophical aesthetics that allows doing and perception to be simultaneously personal and exemplary. Selections from Mark Siderits and Shand#333;ryand#363; Katsuraand#8217;s translation of Nand#257;gand#257;rjunaand#8217;s Mand#363;lamadhyamakakand#257;rikand#257; are also included, as is an essay by Tom Wessels on beavers abandoning their ponds. Additions to the bookand#8212;sent intermittently to readers who mail in a postcard included in the bookand#8212;include texts by Liz Kotz, Yuri Tsivian, and Alise Upitis, and a bookmark made from a remnant 16mm cloth banding.
The survey is organized according to primary materialand#8211;rock, wood, textile, and usw (und so weiter)and#8211;and includes line drawings by Mirra of certain of her works. Models for this publication include The Audubon Societyand#8217;s Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (1981), Daniel Spoerriand#8217;s An Anecdoted Topography of Chance (1966), and Richard Tuttleand#8217;s Small Sculptures of the 70s (1998). Edge Habitat Materials is produced by the MIT List Visual Arts Center and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Chicago-based artist Helen Mirra creates works that explore the relationship between the natural world and the everyday lives and activities of the people who live in it. Aesthetically minimalist, her works deploy repetition and a large range of reference, in order to emphasize labor and the meditative aspects of experience.
Edge Habitat Materials brings together all the artwork created by Mirra between 1995 and 2009, accompanied by disparate texts. For example, in an essay on walking as a minimal aesthetic practice, Bradin Cormack situates Mirraand#8217;s walksand#151;which she then indexed in overlapping exhibitionsand#151;within the context of literary engagements with walking. Together, the art and critical engagements offer a testament to a richly varied creative practice, one that continues to shift and surprise today.
About the Author
Alise Upitis is assistant curator at the List Visual Arts Center at MIT.
Table of Contents
Analyses of disparate topics byT. WesselsB. CormackM. Siderits and S. Katsuraand#160;H. Mirra, survey 1995-2009and#160;Additions includeEssays by L. Kotz, Y. Tsivian, A. Upitisa cloth bookmarker