WONDERS OF THE VOLCANO
PROSJEKTROM NORMANNS, STAVANGER, NORWAY, 2017

Photography, video and audio installation

The subject of the exhibition, volcanism and volcanic activity, springs from the artist's 2016 residency in Iceland. Through different photo series, a video piece and an audio installation, Brown explores how volcanic and geothermal activity has left its clear marks on the characteristic Icelandic landscape, on the surface and in the subterranean lava caves. These caves are testimony to the action of extreme forces thousands of years back in time.  

Key pieces of the exhibition are depictions of the magma chamber of the Thrihnukagigur (Three-Crater Volcano), which has been dormant for 4000 years, and shots the artist made inside the Víðgelmir lava cave at Húsafell, western Iceland.

These magical subterranean spaces are characterised by intense colours and formations that arose as lava masses combined with various minerals and metals. 

The exhibition features documentary photos, as well as more abstract compositions of liquid colour pigments and different minerals that are staged as tableaux in glass tanks. These works reflect a more subjective and emotional interpretation of volcanism as the ultimate of our natural phenomena.

Another central piece is a meditative video that dwells on the evidence of past volcanic and geothermal activity, and how very present it remains to this day, under and above ground. The piece was shot in mountain landscapes, hot bubbling springs and deep under ground in the lavacaves of Víðgelmir and Arnarker.  

The title of the exhibition, 'Wonders of the Volcano', is a reference to the 1880 novel of the same title by English writer Ascott R. Hope. A pseudo-scientific travelogue on volcanoes including Mount Etna and Stromboli, the book also recounts volcanism in Iceland. It offers emotional, poignant accounts of volcanic eruptions, a landscape of toxic gases, earthquakes, while reflecting a fascination with the immense latent forces inside planet Earth. Excerpts from this novel are narrated in English to be experienced as an intimate audio installation in a smaller room in the exhibition.

The exhibition represents a continuation of a greater project the artist has been pursuing over several years, a project exploring the poetic and material qualities generally associated with the four Elements. 

The project has been supported by Arts Council Norway, Norwegian Photographic Fund and Norwegian Visual Artists Support Fund. Prosjektrom Normanns program is supported by Arts Council Norway, Rogaland Municipality and Stavanger Municipality.