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Caitlin Berrigan

Caitlin Berrigan works across performance, video, sculpture, and text to engage with the intimate and embodied dimensions of power, politics, and capitalism. Her artist's book Imaginary Explosions (Broken Dimanche Press, 2018) was the subject of solo exhibitions in Berlin and Schloss Solitude, and her book Unfinished State is forthcoming from Archive Books with support from the Graham Foundation. Her current body of work, Imaginary Explosions, is a cosmology of pseudo-science fiction videos that follows an affiliation of transfeminist geologists as they operate in communication with the desires of the mineral earth for radical, planetary transformation. Her work has shown at the Whitney Museum, the Poetry Project, Harvard Carpenter Center, Storefront for Art & Architecture, Hammer Museum, Anthology Film Archives, LACMA, Henry Art Gallery, UnionDocs, and the deCordova Museum, among others. Berrigan has received grants and residencies from the Humboldt Foundation, Skowhegan, Graham Foundation, PROGRAM for Art & Architecture Berlin, and Akademie Schloss Solitude. She holds a Master's in visual art from MIT and a B.A. from Hampshire College. She is a PhD candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and a research affiliate of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Technology, Culture and Society.

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Imaginary Explosions, Caitlin Berrigan, flipping through book pages

Imaginary Explosions

Imaginary Explosions is an artist book rich with images, poetry, and topographical delineations. The work has been a few years in the making— fitting for events that span generations. Its pages explore geological ruptures, the immense scale and deep time of sexual violence, and the ways traumas reverberate through bodies across multiple generations of relationships and families. It is an experiment in sequential, narrative poetry. Sparse, material language combines with synthetic landscapes based on the computational radar topography of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. Berrigan takes on the book as a time-based medium, creating a walk through the landscape of the volcano across the pages. It draws from storytelling and geological time and space through episodes of volcanology. Can we begin to grasp the scope and scales of both geological change and the deep time of patriarchy, by in fact becoming mineral ourselves?

Now Shipping! 20€ March 2018, Broken Dimanche Press

Imaginary Explosions, Caitlin Berrigan, flipping through book pages
Imaginary Explosions, Caitlin Berrigan, editioned pigment prints
Treatise on Imaginary Explosions, vol. 1

Treatise on Imaginary Explosions vol. II

A cosmology of works that draw upon geology to examine the deep time scales of structural patriarchy, sexual violence, ruptures, resistance, re-emergence, and friendship as a form of politics. The pseudo-science fiction is comprised of episodic videos, sculptures, costumes and drawings that forge into affective geologies and the idea of becoming mineral.

The series follows a group of transfeminist geologists as they conspire to simultaneously erupt all of Earth’s volcanoes. The geologists investigate volcanoes, remote-sensing laboratories, and geological survey sites across the world, encountering the relationship between the embodied time-scales of geological metamorphosis and human landscapes of trauma. It is an exercise in transfeminist affiliation, collaboration, climate reparation and cosmology creation. (Ongoing)

Watch an excerpt of episode 1

Treatise on Imaginary Explosions, vol. 2
Treatise on Imaginary Explosions, vol. 2
Treatise on Imaginary Explosions, vol. 2
Treatise on Imaginary Explosions, vol. 2
Treatise on Imaginary Explosions, vol. 2

Unfinished State

Unfinished State starts from a novel with holes bored through its plot. Narratives of city-branding and surges of global capital have caused waves of speculative real estate development in Berlin and Beirut, two cities that were spatially divided by conflict and have been under reconstruction for decades.

This book of images and conversations stray from these narratives into a shadow landscape of unfinished and vacant structures that remain suspended in a state of incompletion—fixed on the brink of a possible future.

Read more on Art21 Magazine

Forthcoming Archive Books with support from the Graham Foundation, Humboldt Foundation, and NYU Humanities

Unfinished State helipad postcard, Oscar Niemeyer
Unfinished State postcard, 2015

Vacant Address

This essay video moves between an unfinished hotel perched on the ledge of the Mediterranean in Lebanon, and empty condominiums in Berlin that are still seeking affluent occupants years after completion. Textures of the architecture itself are deployed as a spatial evocation of financial power and imagination. Space becomes an empty vessel for capital— but holds as well a desire for possible futures. (2016)

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Vacant Address, 2016
Unfinished State Folded Skies, 2015

Lessons in Capitalism

Lessons in Capitalism uses the realm of play to question the language and structures of finance. Without expecting young people to provide answers to our most pressing economic problems, Lessons in Capitalism taps into the imaginative capacity of children to encounter with fresh eyes how we learn about money.

Free financial advice. Creative Time ‘Living as Form,’ Harvard Carpenter Center for the Arts. Working with Harvard Business School students, facilitators, children and the public. (2014)

Lessons in Capitalism, girl drawing
Lessons in Capitalism, Roth IRA

Spectrum of Inevitable Violence

An installation and public performance invited participants to survey and analyze their class background in four categories: Socioeconomic Status, Cultural Capital, Class Status, and Social Mobility.

The resulting scores were mapped onto four quadrants that served as territory to defend in a dynamic confrontation—with food as ammunition. This public battle invited open dialogue about subjects we mostly keep to ourselves: how class and social mobility permeate our culture, interpersonal relationships and careers.

deCordova Museum & Cyclorama, Boston. (2012)

Watch Documentation

Spectrum of Inevitable Violence, Caitlin and Pig
Spectrum of Inevitable Violence, Class Warfare Food Fight
Spectrum of Inevitable Violence, Class Warfare Food Fight
Spectrum of Inevitable Violence, Class Warfare Food Fight

Class Anxieties

A series of personal narratives from multiple people reveal moments of uncanny tension related to issues of social class. Two-channel installation loops. (2012)

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Class Anxieties, drawing of a plane

Victory Gardening

A site-specific commission created for Governors Island, a former military fortress that has changed hands among nations over the centuries. I circled the perimeter of the island for 3 days endlessly declaring ‘Victory’ in an evaporating medium. (2011)

Victory Gardening, Statue of Liberty
Victory Gardening, Governor's Island
Victory Gardening, Governor's Island

Marshmallow Crash

4-min looping video. A character violently confronts an oversized marshmallow amidst an idyllic pastoral landscape. The light, fluffy buoyancy promised by the giant marshmallow is never quite delivered as the character repeatedly impacts the marshmallow and is left marked, exhausted and unfulfilled. (2008)

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Marshmallow Crash, 2008

Marshmallow Suicide

12-min video. A desperately nostalgic character slowly gluttonizes a giant marshmallow while repeating the chorus of Don McLean’s “Bye Bye, Miss American Pie.” The cathartic repetition impels the figure to float away on the lake atop the marshmallow, and subsequently drown herself in an act of despair. (2008)

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Marshmallow Suicide, 2008
Marshmallow Suicide, 2008


30-min looping video. Two people transfer one full pitcher of milk through the interface of their mouths, to fill an empty pitcher. The action repeats when the first pitcher is emptied and the other is full. A simple choreography evokes tender embraces and the nurture of milk. Yet the transfer of fluids from mouth to mouth and back again adds a layer of repugnance, gently pushing the boundaries of bodily permeability. (2009)

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Transfers, 2009


A renewable sculpture of the artist’s own disembodied kidney, cast in the frozen spit of gallery attendants. Every two hours a new frozen organ is put on display, only to melt and drip away. The artist traced the topography of her internal organ from a 3D MRI in order to materialize its form outside of her body. (2009)

Traces, 2009


A multiple commissioned by the Whitney Museum & offered to the public for free. The Delftware-style coupe plate depicts a portrait of the artist engaging in self-cannibalism. A small chocolate truffle, cast from a 3D MRI of the artist’s liver, can be eaten. The work refers to the depictions of Brazilian Tupi rituals of cannibalism, sensationalized by Hans Staden, a 16th c. Dutch explorer. It also makes homage to the 20th century Brazilian concept of antropofagia in which colonialism and Western hegemony are devoured, digested and excreted into new forms of art and abjection. (2008)

Hepatophagy, 2008

Viral Confections

A model of the hepatitis C viral protein structure was 3D printed printed from a cryo-electron micrograph. The form of the virus was then cast into an edible form. Desire is mixed with repulsion. The chocolates served in exchange for dialogue, acting as agents of information rather than infection. (2006)

Viral Confections, 2006