orDeNAtion: the DNA of the Stone

Chaos is the order we do not understand. Throughout time, artists have appropriated sciences’ methods and systems to construct an aesthetic. Be it Biology, Physics, Optics or Anatomy, the capacity of scientists to systematize something has always flirted with the interest in putting some order in their creative freedom.

One field that shaped Denise Milan's work was Geology. Understanding the origin and message of stones has always been the object of her obsession in almost 40 years of career. Her work sought to reveal things about stones that go beyond what the eye can see.

In this exhibition her methodology appears more complex and presents itself as a language. Here, pure stones are no longer what is imposed, but their cosmogony, the relation between symbolic values that she attributed and their combination creating new places, so that a mineral feast could be served. Ordination is the way of assigning a poetic method to something that cannot be understood with reason. When things have no meaning, we create this method so that we do not succumb to madness. (Though this be madness, there is method in it, said Polonius to Hamlet.). This method classifies, relates, categorizes and narrates what the artist sees in the richness of mineral matter. Each classification opens a new narrative and a situation is presented. To each eye, table, map, or column, minerals appear in a new sequence, order, or attribution.

As Carl Sagan said: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” The most ambitious work of this exhibition was creating a mineral alphabet, in which signs of human feelings are associated with geometric forms and graphic codes. This system of finding mirroring of what we are in a method that allows us to recognize ourselves in the abstraction of the stone belongs to a rare capacity of synthesis. When giving life, intention and memory, Denise Milan sequences a kind of Stone’s DNA.


Marcello Dantas