Miyanaga (born in 1974 in Kyoto) is known for her site-specific installations: using ephemeral materials such as salt and naphthalene, her practice is often concerned with the processes of transition. Miyanaga’s works transform when they are exposed to the air, physically dissolving and challenging the temporality of the present. Through an array of media that may seem delicate – thin strings of crystallised salt, the sounds of ceramic glass cracking – Miyanaga contrasts material resilience with nature in flux; her work reflects on our being and surroundings.
In Liverpool, Miyanaga will produce a series of cast naphthalene objects encapsulated in resin, mostly keys and books which recur throughout her work and, for this exhibition, have been found and collected in the UK. Napthalene is a volatile compound which sublimates and re-solidifies to release itself from the resin – its objects do not simply vanish, instead they are altered by the conditions of temperature and humidity and are ultimately replaced by the air in the library, and even the breath of the visitors. Some of the pieces will have a limited airflow, holding them in a stable state as they lie dormant for their moments to be integrated into reading, whilst some will be allowed to sublimate.
Bubbles are purposefully let into the resin, capturing the atmosphere of the space in which the object was cast: each sculptural piece incorporates layers of time. Miyanaga’s perspective on the library is more than a collection of words, books or a representation of history; she values the indefinable and the traces of thoughts. Incorporating the library’s historic magnifying glass, the exhibition allows the viewer to read through these strata of the present.
Miyanaga’s work connects with a larger whole, a stage in the continuous cycle of the elements – it is an apparatus that asks us to pause, to look beyond the present and to wonder with serendipity.
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