Anna McNay

Interview with Liliane Lijn


Liliane Lijn: interview


When Liliane Lijn (b1939) invites
us to her studio in Haringey, east London, on one of the wettest and windiest
days of the year, we come bundled up in jumpers, expecting a large, cold, warehouse-type
setting, but, instead, we are met by an assistant and ushered in for tea and
biscuits in a beautifully spacious, well-lit, and, more importantly, well-heated
studio-cum-gallery space.

After initial introductions and the
removal of our soggy outer garments, Lijn conducts a thorough studio tour,
turning on each of the amazing and sometimes ominously towering works from
across her long career, creating a gentle background whirr, and beginning with some
early koans (imperial white rotating
cones with slivers of colour slicing through them at angles) and a collection
of Poemcons (cones with text carved
into them, lit from within, similarly rotating), she progresses via
fragmentations of the self (for example, My
Body, My Self
, 1996) and tales of singing to looming feminine creations
(her Cosmic Dramas series from the 80s), to fragmentations of her Aerogel
pieces, resulting from a residency with NASA in 2005. With all this talk of stardust
and lines of light interacting in four dimensions (the fourth being time), it
is hard to believe that Lijn’s scientific knowledge is all self-taught. She
shrugs this off nonchalantly, however: “That’s all science is, really,
observation. I’m just interested in it and so I read.” It seems that a lot of
Lijn’s success comes from “just being interested”. Over more biscuits and more
tea, we continue to chat.

To read the interview and watch a video tour of Lijn’s studio, please go to: