In the title work, 364 small glass jars are lined up side by side. Each jar contains the ground down remains of a fleeting moment, beginning with meteorite dust from before the Sun existed, with the world’s story so far ending with blood samples from a Polynesian snail reborn from extinction. The short descriptions of all 364 samples contained in the accompanying publication by Palaeobiology professor Jan Zalasiewicz capture the full mind-expanding breadth of Paterson’s endeavour.
With accompanying time-based works upstairs, during the exhibition’s run, the contents of each jar are poured into a large glass urn at the centre of the room. From first to last, this funereal rite creates a dried up cocktail of life on earth, as what once was is turned to dust. That dust has far from settled in Paterson’s elegy to times past, which nevertheless keeps a hopeful eye on the shape of things to come, making history as long as it goes.
Requiem runs at Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh until June 11.
The List, June 2022