Salvatore Arancio blurs science and fiction in first UK show at Spacex

By Mark Sheerin | 18 August 2011
A black and white etching of an erupting volcano
Salvatore Arancio's signature is photo-etching, such as the example here© Salvatore Arancio
Exhibition: Salvatore Arancio: An Arrangement of the Materials Ejected, Spacex, Exeter, October 1 – November 26 2011

In his first UK solo show, Salvatore Arancio presents us with art which appears rooted in science from a time when science in turn drew heavily from art.

Before the advent of photography, no self-respecting field trip seemed complete without an illustrator. Artists had powers of observation that natural historians or geologists were often lacking in.

This has meant bookfuls of now redundant etchings, some of which form the starting point for new artistic works by Italian artist Arancio. Here, they straddle the worlds of science and also fiction.

Along with etching, the multidisciplinary show includes examples of collage, video, animation and sculpture. Geology appears alongside older creation myths such as those of Native Americans or the consumers of mandrake root.

Space is given to prints and a model inspired by the hallucinatory plant, along with a split screen video piece about the creation of Mount Shasta in the onetime Wild West.

2011 has been a good year for shows about the history of science. Christine Borland brought a 19th century medical cast to Camden Arts Centre in May. And only last month Semiconductor offered a take on 20th century geology at Liverpool’s FACT.

  • Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm. Admission free.

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