DAWN NILO: Blueprints


Opening reception: Sat, Sept 11, 2021, 12-5
Exhibition: Sept 11 – Oct 16, 2021

Click here to view the exhibition PDF

For further information, please contact the gallery.

Wil Aballe Art Projects | WAAP
1129 East Hastings St.
Vancouver, BC V6A 1S3

Hours: Tu – Sat, 12-5

Blueprint is a series of 14 cyanotype prints. When read from left to right the complete series is a poem that suggests a blueprint for the formation of the body – from coming into being out of nothing, to walking. Read backwards it describes the process of death. It also illustrates the geometric construction of a pentagram, the Hermetic symbol for the human body that represents the power of the spirit to bring the elements into balance and harmony. As a soul exercise it invites one to inwardly imagine what happens in between the fixed graphic forms, thus developing the imaginative capacities using a method that is inspired by meditation exercises on metamorphosis and geometry in movement.

The original sketches for Blueprint were drawn in pencil on paper and digitally scanned for print in the electronic book, The Question, which was published by artist Paul Chan’s Badland’s Unlimited in 2014. The image files were then reversed, printed as negative transparencies and developed in the sun using cyanotype, an analogue printing process using chemicals and exposure to ultraviolet light. The Question was republished in print by Nilo Press in 2019 through the support of Kultur Basel-Stadt and the Edith Maryon Foundation.

The Question … is a book of poetry that includes sketches for a series of fourteen cyanotype prints displayed on the wall (Blueprint, 2017). These are in effect blueprints, a mode of existence that changes everything in the sense that a blueprint is a unique process which situates itself between drawing and photography. It needs light to exist, and if it fades, putting it back in the sunlight restores the blue and gives life to any motif, line or shape that has been imprinted on it. The series of blueprints can be read as a sequence as the viewer travels alongside the wall: it goes from beginning to end, from birth to death, and enacts a lifecycle. Everything born into existence perishes. However, things, people, animals, plants, objects do generate themselves. And very often, novelty comes in: new patterns, new ways of doing and ways of seeing come up. New assemblages of “DNA”, propelled by metamorphosis, changing situations and necessary criticality. Catherine Malabou has written in this sense on the present situation we are navigating through, heavily touched by artificial intelligence. We can develop strategies to deal with an increasing seizure of the mind and body by digitalization (some refer to this phenomenon as a new version of colonization).9 Donna Haraway speaks of this ongoing process, as well as that of the environmental crisis, as demanding a necessary attitude: “Stay with the trouble”, says she.10 Facing chaos is the best way to go beyond. Dawn Nilo inscribes geometric diagrams of all shapes and sorts on her blueprints. These are translations of different transitional states and constitute a cartography of the mind/body question, the question of existence itself. The composer Charles Ives called it the “unanswered question”. This work projects us into the cosmic realm. And what is the cosmos, if not that space that every bit of DNA in us is linked to, part of.

– Text excerpt: “From Navigation to Negotiations : Back and Forth” by Chantal Pontbriand

DAWN NILO, born in 1968 in North Vancouver Canada, and based in Basel Switzerland, received her MFA from the Basel Art Institute in 2016. Inspired by the archetypes of the alchemist and the fool, she writes poems in performances and visual art that explore the opposites of knowing and not knowing as intelligent absurd naiveté. Her work has been exhibited or performed at institutions such as the Schaulager, Kunsthaus Baselland, Kunsthalle Basel and the Gessneralle in Switzerland; the Leopold Museum and Volx/Margarethen Theatre in Austria and the Gerdarsafn-Kóopavogur Museum in Iceland. Some excerpts from her career include a nomination for the Swiss Art Award (2020) and Swiss Performance Art Award (2017), a danceWeb scholorship (Vienna 2016), a GGG Atelier Stipendium (Basel 2016-18) and a Kultur Basel-Stadt project grant (2018). Her work has been represented by Contemporary Monk at the Brussels Gallery Weekend 2019 and Art Rotterdam 2020. Some of the artists and curators she has worked with include Tino Sehgal, Simone Forti, Paul Chan, John Giorno, Klaus Biesenbach, Tom Stromberg, Alice Wilke, Ines Goldbach, Poka-Yio and Chus Martinez.