View of “Irene Kopelman,” 2018. Walls: 77 Colors of a Volcanic Landscape A, B, C, 2016. Floor: The Levy’s Flight, Puzzle piece #2, 2012. Photo: Kristien Daem.

Irene Kopelman

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art

The tallest peak in Southeast Asia, Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu, is an ecological anomaly, home to a bafflingly high concentration of endemic plant and animal species. Are these unique life forms recent links in the global evolutionary chain, or just the surviving relics of species long extinct elsewhere? In 2012, the Kinabalu/Crocker Range Expedition set out to answer this question, assembling a team of forty specialists, including Irene Kopelman, an artist who approaches ecological research from the vantage point of aesthetics. While her colleagues harvested genetic material for classification, Kopelman catalogued myriad shades of plant life to produce Sampling Greens, 2012, a comprehensive color index consisting of fifteen diptychs rendered in gouache and pencil. The first part of each diptych offers a loosely structured annotated palette, while its complement shows the color components

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