Fort Dunree became an inspiring location to develop these ideas, allowing her to explore the physical and historical properties of this particular place and examine the transforming abilities and limitations of memory. On site the artist researched how the present condition of the fort and found material (physical residue, found pigment and dust from the site) combined with light-sensitivity, could serve as a direct document, and physical embodiment, of time.
During her residency she worked with light sensitive emulsion on large sheets of silk to capture the light’s intrusion through various openings in buildings on site: structures where a frame was captured in a state of change, losing grip of their strict geometry. The color palette of the images reflect the sky between sundown and sunset, when many of the images where captured. Their fragile transparent appearance and tactile character hint at the ruins which the photograms depict.
While wandering around the fort she gathered objects and fragments which appeared in the undergrowth and used them in a series of Anthotypes made by the application of light sensitive color extracted from plants on hand made paper (also made from local plants). On returning to her home country of Iceland she continued to work with the Anthotypes process, this time using local plants native to Iceland.
An ongoing preoccupation is the search for a conceptual way of recording walks. During her time in Ireland she extended this practice to work with a Hectograph. By the means of this old duplication technique, details from walks around the Fort area accumulated on the continuing pages of a series of artist’s books. The book work initiated at the Artlink studio was the first in a continuing series of Artist’s books, abstract translations of walks in changing settings, time and place.
Her previous works, connected to specific sites, have previously included found pigment from stones and minerals, pigments that occur naturally like subtle colour specks in the terrain. At Fort Dunree a large spectrum of colours, applied at different time periods, covered the interiors of buildings in uneven, torn surfaces. The multicolored powders became a valuable resource, containing layers of time, historical relics, signs of use and life. “Of Dust” is a series of works made from found pigments, drawings of details from recordings, translated to rough surfaces and shapes derived from the interior from where the pigments originate. The saying “if walls could speak” comes to mind.
The notion of time’s arrow, of entropy, is apparent at Fort Dunree, where the abandoned military barracks, subject to decay and gradual collapse, are a reminder of a now redundant past. The depiction of ruins has long held a fascination for artists but there is always a risk of this falling into mere sentiment or nostalgia. However, Litten uses the abandoned buildings and fragments of Fort Dunree as a means to express something about the beauty of tranformation, making something new from the fragments, rather than wallowing in melancholy collapse. Perhaps in this way we she asks us to think in terms of cyclical rather than linear time.
Litten’s work is often characterized by a subtle lightness in describing connections between time, matter and place, materialized in works that are both subtle happenings and tangible compositions in one. The works in After Memory relate to each other and underline new possibilities in the changing and shape shifting properties which time facilitates.
After Memory brings together work made during Litten’s residency at Artlink and work inspired by the residency, made back home in Iceland.
The Exhibition runs 5th May - 2nd June Saldahna Suite, Fort Dunree.