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Caitlin Berrigan works as a visual artist and writer to explore poetics and queer science fiction as world-making practices
through instruments and moving image. Her work enfolds the complexity of interrelations across humans and other beings within
spatial ecologies, technologies, and systems of capitalism. She has had recent solo exhibitions at JOAN Los Angeles (2023) and Art in
General (2019), and has presented her work at the Whitney Museum, Berlinale Forum Expanded, Henry Art Gallery, Harvard Carpenter Center,
Poetry Project, Anthology Film Archives, La Casa Encendida, Ashkal Alwan, Goldsmith's among other international venues. Her experimental
writings are published by e-flux, Georgia, MARCH, Duke University Press and Broken Dimanche Press. She has received fellowships
and residencies from Creative Capital, the Humboldt Foundation, Skowhegan, Graham Foundation, and Akademie Schloss Solitude. Currently a
Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Berrigan has held full-time and visiting faculty positions at NYU Tisch,
Caltech, Bard College Berlin, Harvard, and UMass Boston.
For the past several years, Berrigan has created an expansive cosmology called Imaginary Explosions (2018-2023) that proposes being in relation to geological animacies and follows an autofictional network of transfeminist scientists who cooperate with the desires of the mineral earth to simultaneously erupt all volcanoes. Imaginary Explosions has culminated into a rich collection of three episodic films, looping installation videos, poetic texts, scripts, audio descriptions, archival materials, sculptures, scores, and communication instruments.
Berrigan’s recent writings include: A voice becomes a mirror plane becomes a holohedral wand, a speculative fiction narrating mineral appetites and shapeshifting in the deep sea, published for Autograph Press with JOAN (2023); “Kinship Is Anarchy” a narrative reflection for e-flux on the practice of being-with the kinships we do not choose—human and inhuman, living and undead (2022); “Omissions,” a two-part speculative essay in the journal Georgia on the sensorium of state fictions, settler colonial property law, and worldbuilding in California (2022); Atmospheres of the Undead: living with viruses, loneliness, and neoliberalism,” a commission for MARCH International that narrates the spatial choreographies of contagion and subjectivities of living with viral alterity, and offers an embodied perspective of disability from within the technocratic apparatuses of the pharmaceutical industry;and an artist’s book Imaginary Explosions (Broken Dimanche Press, 2018) that takes on the book as a time-based medium with poetic texts and computational volcanic landscapes to delineate geological ruptures and the immense scale and deep time of sexual violence.
A cosmology that draws upon geology to investigate how deep time and interspecies communication might assist us in radical planetary transformation. Comprised of video, sculpture and communication instruments, Imaginary Explosions explores what other presents and futures become possible once we begin to think beyond the framework of the human. The pseudo-science fictions work across episodic videos, sculptures, costumes and drawings that forge into affective geologies and the idea of becoming mineral.
Produced with the support of Centre for Geohumanities Royal Holloway University, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Henry Art Gallery, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
The videos follow an affiliation of transfeminist scientists operating in communication with the desires of the mineral earth to simultaneously erupt all volcanoes. As they traverse geological sites across place and time, they attempt to divest technoscientific instruments of their military and corporate power, in order to re-embody them towards alternative cosmologies. Co-conspiring with the videos’ characters—who are artists and scholars whose real-life work pushes the very limits of science and culture. Imaginary Explosions points towards mutual alliance, climate reparation and cosmology creation. (Ongoing)
Imaginary Explosions is an artist book of images, poetry, and topographical delineations. 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 becoming mineral ourselves?
Editions of 3 + 1 AP (2018)
24 x 17 in /61 x 43 cm
Edition of 30 + 3 AP (2016)
Each 16 x 26 in /41 x 66 cm
Produced with a Wassaic Project Editions Fellowship
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)