On Sculpture, an artbook by Eygló Harðardóttir

On Sculpture, an artbook by Eygló Harðardóttir

On Sculpture, an artbook by Eygló Harðardóttir

In the 1975 manifesto, The New Art of Making Books, by Ulises Carrión, the Mexican writer, curator, and conceptual artist expanded upon the traditional book form as a three-dimensional site of experience rather than as a container of texts. The manifesto begins with the dismantling of notions of the book: “A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment – a book is also a sequence of moments. A book is not a case of words, nor a bag of words, nor a bearer of words.” This is where one can certainly find a doorway into Eygló Harðardóttir’s artbook, Sculpture.

Eygló’s organic sculptural installations manifested in book form create a seamless arch between the art object and printed matter. Her larger sculptural practice with its emphasis on the possibilities of material and its relationship to the surrounding space through composition and color take on a new dimensionality in book form, one that is more intimate and attuned to the unique experience of the viewer.

The careful attention paid to materials in Eygló’s larger sculptural practice transferred to the book form brings to mind Jacques Ranciere’s quote from The Future of the Image (2007): The mixing of materialities is conceptual before it is real. Before the visual and verbal became an established practice in the arts, it was literature that was able to bridge the verbal and visual in a way that defied traditional understandings of their differences and conceptually proclaimed the gradually diminishing chasm between them.

In Eygló’s artbook, we find a natural bridge between an object of art and printed matter. This is seen in Eygló’s aim to merge awareness of material, composition, and layers of color with the possibilities of a changeable book form. The binding is loosely stitched enabling flexible folding combinations. Perforated patterns appear on some of the pages, creating various options of bending and tearing some of the parts to create a new approach towards reading the book form as a moldable, interactive space. This is further accentuated by the artist’s emphasis on using ratios from the human body to emphasize the materials’ intended role of being part of an interaction with the viewer/reader.

The shape of the open book seen from above (as seen in the image) also brings to mind W.J.T. Mitchell’s diagram for exploring image-text relationships: the X. The unrepresentable space between image and text that goes beyond formal descriptions of the relationship between vision and language, metaphorical nesting of images, and graphic media is what Mitchell tries to relay in his X diagram. Unlike the slash (/) or the dash ( ), the X puts an emphasis on the multiplicity of relations between image and text. However, Eygló’s Sculpture expands his X to other dimensions of materiality that encompasses the senses of touching and listening.

Sculpture,“ says the artist, „is connected to the hands and how the materials are available for touch“. The work, as a sculpture in book form, changes the way one approaches the act of reading and all of the associated bodily notions that attend the act of reading: holding the open book in both hands, turning the pages, resting the book on a surface. The handmade paper invites touch with its soft accumulation of cotton and frayed edges. Perforations invite the reader to tear and bend the pages, creating a possible 3d structure out of the flat pages of the book, after which, it could rest in a new position, open or closed. The sound accompanying the tearing of paper also becomes another layer of texture in reading the book. The experience is one akin to reading poems composed of materials interacting with your eyes, hands, and ears, instead of words themselves.

The artist remarks on the differences in approach between bookworks and exhibition spaces: „Because bookworks last longer than an exhibition, they live on their own in an alternative space. The bookwork has freedom because it is not held by the constraints of an exhibition space. Bookworks are for the body, you can walk into the work and experience it in your hands; the body is the space in which you experience it. When you make bookworks you think towards a more private space than that of the exhibition viewer.”

„I can make two-year-long works that encompass time in a different array. I can take it apart and put it back together again. In this way, it teaches you about reading and gives you a clue about how to read again with the pleasure of the first acts of reading reignited. The books are oriented towards sounds, touch, and the entire orientation towards engaging with a book. It is against exhibitions, essentially.“

Eygló’s Sculpture expands Mitchell’s relationship between image and text to other dimensions by inviting such questions as: What is the future of reading? What does the materiality of the books have to do with their readability?

Erin Honeycutt


This article is a continuation of the series on artists’ books that began with an interview with Jan Voss, one of the founders of Boekie Woekie in Amsterdam.

Sculpture was published by  ́uns plural for one in 200 signed and numbered copies using offset printing with four color CMYK, three Pantone spot colors, one color hand-painted.

Paper: Munken Kristall and Munken Polar 300g/m2.

Perforations were made by both machine and handmade, hand die-cuts.

Size 24 x 30 cm/dimensions variable.

Sculpture is available at: ‘uns ́s website catalog, Books in The Back/Harbinger Gallery, NYLO/Living Art Museum, Boekie Woekie and has been included in Printed Matter’s distribution program.

Sculpture came out in December 2016 and was soon after launched at Buro BDP in Berlin. In January 2017 it was presented in Harbinger Gallery in Reykjavík. Sculpture was exhibited in the show Other Hats: Icelandic Printmaking in IPCNY in New York, 2017. The same year the original artworks of the pages in Sculpture were part of the show OPNUN in Kling & Bang Gallery in Reykjavik. This show was presenting a group of artists that were part of a TV series about the Icelandic visual art scene (Curators: Dorothée Kirch and Markús Þór Andrésson). A special exhibition of Sculpture and its original pages was on view at the Culture House in Reykjavík in the exhibition Creative Printing & Artists’ Books curated by National and University Library of Iceland 2018-19.

Eygló Harðardóttir lives and works in Reykjavík: eyglohardardottir.net

́uns plural for one was founded in 2015 by Guðrún Benónýsdóttir. The press is based in Berlin and Reykjavik with an emphasis on publishing artist-made books, multiples and educational material: uns-artbooks.net

Boekie Woekie, the longest running artists’ bookshop performance

Boekie Woekie, the longest running artists’ bookshop performance

Boekie Woekie, the longest running artists’ bookshop performance

In 1975, Ulises Carrión wrote the manifesto The New Art of Making Books. In the manifesto, the Mexican writer, curator, and conceptual artist expanded upon the traditional book form as a three-dimensional site of experience rather than as a container of texts.

The manifesto begins with the dismantling of notions of the book: “A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment – a book is also a sequence of moments. A book is not a case of words, nor a bag of words, nor a bearer of words.”

A new book era had begun and Carrión urged artists and writers to use newly available printing technologies to bypass traditional book markets as well as to form networks and communities in which to distribute independently. Carrión (1941, San Andrés Tuxtla, Mexico – 1989, Amsterdam) was a key figure in post-1960s avant-garde. Upon arriving in Amsterdam in 1972, he became part of the founding of the art venue, In-Out Center (1972-1975) and in 1975 founded Other Books and So, one of the first artists’ bookstores in the world. In 1979, it became Other Books and So Archive.

Today the artists’ bookshop, Boekie Woekie is carrying forth where Carrión left off and is the longest running artist’s bookstore in the world. The shop now has about 7,000 titles which are almost exclusively self-published or small press books.

The small book shop at Berenstraat 16 was at first only technically allowed to be called a gallery as the founders had art degrees and no background in the selling of books (such is Dutch law.) The labyrinth of publications of varying shapes and sizes makes up the vast collection that seems to exude the history of the place in the many scattered layers of books and publications. The shop is now a relic in the neighborhood in an area now vastly different than how it appeared just thirty years ago. Although the books are cataloged, the brimming shelves and tables are an exhibition in themselves with the search and discovery as part of the unfolding experience.

Some of the artists’ books can be seen as exhibitions in themselves, or rather like the soft imprint of larger material work, an underlayer of vision that can only be found and told in book form. In a conversation with one of the founders, the German artist Jan Voss, I was told in more detail about the shop’s history and his vision of the function of the artists’ book.

What were some of the motivations behind founding the place?

The motivations behind founding the place were more multi-fold than one would perhaps think. Of the six people who founded the place, only two were from the Netherlands while the others came from far away places. Running it now is Henriëtte van Egten from Amsterdam and Rúna Thorkelsdóttir from Iceland and myself from Germany.

In 1985, we needed to find a place. Besides the fact that we had in common boxes full of our own books, we also had Iceland. Iceland was the common link among us in one way or another. Dieter Roth, who had been living in Iceland, was my teacher in Düsseldorf and inspired me to start making books. His books were the first we started to include in the shop that was not our own. Although in 1985 we knew each other individually because we had been making books, we didn’t see this as a real venture. If you had said to me then that I would be sitting here 30 years later in the same book shop, I would say you are mad. Our real motivation was to show our presence in this city and to become identifiable as artists.

Were there other art bookshops at the time?

There were places that had an expanded art books section, but not an artists’ bookshop. We all had a memory of Other Books and So, opened by Ulises Carrión in 1975 where we all had our works. It was open for two years and was never established before or after but just came about as an impulse of the time on a one-man scale. The booksellers were not the ones that were so important but it was young art historians who were using the printed matter as a platform from which to explore and find their way into the world of art history.

I went to the Düsseldorf art academy and I noticed pretty quickly that drawing was something I would be doing. In those parameters, that was what you were expected to do. You drew and it was a confused world in which labels of good and bad are all over the place. It became clear that drawing in a sequence was quite compelling to me and of course, if you have a sequence of drawings, books become a natural answer. I became a student of Dieter Roth. One of the first things he did in Düsseldorf was to buy an offset machine in the late 1960s. Figuring out how it worked and the consequence of all that led to the door of opening Boekie Woekie really.

You can also have the beginning story as was replicated in Amsterdam what then was only ten years earlier. I hadn’t progressed much really. I bought an offset machine and basically, we are still running it. So in the first five years, we were only selling our own works – you could also call it a five-year performance. You could hardly call it a bookshop as it was more a display window. It was ridiculous.

After those first five years, we had come down to three owners, Rúna, Hette and I.

On the first of January, 1991, we moved into this location. The thing is that we are not booksellers; we are artists. Our artistic material is the people with whom we talk and in the shop I treat those people who come in as my material. In the sense that they go to the “artist bookstore” of the town, they don’t really need me. It is not all material anymore. It is performance really.

Are there any books that are of special significance to you?

The Dieter Roth works, of course, but if I give it more thought it is simply the multitude of human endeavors that have evolved into something becoming this little package sliced of the world of a book. This complex thing that a book is with so many faces and so many incredible motivations that can be seen outside the context in which books are happening in our world. An artists’ book exists because it doesn’t count on the newspaper or the television or will be propagated in some professional manner; the thing that will make money as opposed to the thing that makes someone’s craziness go so far to make someone actually do it. The tip of the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg – that is what is visible here. It is making visible this urge for people to have something to say in a way that is penetrating to the ears of the people they are actually speaking to – this enormous choir of ambition and strife and being the human not content with what there is anyhow but who gives that extra thing to it. It is a celebration of being who we are – a celebration of the endeavor.

This article is part one of three articles in a series based on artists‘ books and the multidimensional relationship between the book form and contemporary art.

Erin Honeycutt

Boekie Woekie website: https://boewoe.home.xs4all.nl/

Prime Matter – Kathy Clark at Studio Sol

Prime Matter – Kathy Clark at Studio Sol

Prime Matter – Kathy Clark at Studio Sol

In an industrial suburb of Reykjavik surrounded by car dealerships and warehouses, the home gallery of Studio Sol transforms the large working spaces of the area through a wholly other use than industry. Entering on the lower floor of the building, one is overcome by the immediate shift in atmosphere to something that operates in a softer manner than the surroundings – you have to listen intently to hear its message.

In the exhibition & Again it Descends to the Earth, American/Icelandic artist Kathy Clark creates this initial atmospheric shift of the senses through the weather sounds that greet you (rain and thunder, plus the chords of a lute) and the subdued dusk-light in which a series of bright, shifting symbols dance across the floor. At first, you wonder if you have stepped inside a folklore museum display related to an offshoot of the Hidden People who have magically been making enigmatic sculptures out of lava rock for centuries. Every element comes across as being part of a larger narrative, informed with research carried out by the creator, yet transformed into a personal narrative that blends with a larger, timeless one.

With a tactile sensibility of handmade materials made of clay, yet reminiscent of bone and stone, Clark makes clear the significance between the activity of craft-making to connect their maker to an elemental reality through the timely, repetitive gestures involved in the process of building with natural materials. Large, mound-shape sculptures alighted with ceramic creatures, ambiguously deer-like, have become totems of the exhibition. The beehive motive is also prevalent, but in its completely black display with white lines showing the coiled shape of the structure, the pure symbol is returned to the viewer, as though the signifier were removed. In fact, all of the handmade sculptures in the show are painted a deep, matte black, creating a shadow-like fantastical landscape.

Like the prima materia, or the first matter in alchemy, the matte black color of all the sculptures create a seemingly unified base material of chaos reflecting one of the fundamental theories in alchemy, that of the universal nature of this first matter. The titles of works in the exhibition come from Isaac Newton’s translation of The Emerald Tablet, a text known to have existed between the 6th and 8th century attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, the mysterious figure who is known as the father of alchemy. The cave-like space of the exhibition operates like some kind of prime material that has been burned and distilled, purified into an essence of all things, resonating with the act of purifying materials from nature throughout time.

Other early alchemists are echoed in the wax prints on which are etched in black acrylic, landscape scenes featuring massive stone figures, such as the one onto which The Emerald Tablet was purported to have been written. The alchemical manuscripts depicting scenes of processes laid out in metaphorical narrative landscape scenes found in Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens (1617), for instance, are especially reminiscent with the etchings of large stones upon which text is carved. The wax casting of the tableaus creates a tactile overlay making them seemingly reach further into the past than even their vast landscapes suggest.

Clark has created a kind of feminized tablet in her tableau, a rewriting of the text towards a matriarchal base in which it is explicit the metaphor of the female figure being anthropomorphized into a landscape. The fantastical archaeological complex of landforms makes an homage to the landscape as inherently female with the ribs and vertebrae making a middle world, upper world, and a tree of life erupting towards the sun, the mountain temple pyramid of the female figure’s head. Clark answers mysterious origins of landscape forms with her own landscape reminiscent of the Funk Art movement of California in the 1960s; large-scale assemblage works of cultural detritus. Yet instead of mid-20th-century cultural detritus of Americana, Clark’s Funk Art is pulled from the ruins of Neolithic pagan sites.

On the black walls are situated grids of palm-sized, ceramic icons, also painted black, creating a further sense of meaning arriving from depths of depths. It is possible to read the icons as a wall poem from multiple directions as a spatialized incantation, even more so if you choose to read the symbols out loud. The black symbols’ onto which white details have been etched makes it particularly stark in creating a distilled sense of the meaning behind the symbol being brought into form, as though they were tools in relearning the entire theatre of their meaning in a pantomime. The icons of sun, bird, eye, snake/earthworm, triangle, branch, and beehive create a continuous incantation, a poem brought to life through the low hum of a beehive making all of the pieces seemingly vibrate on the verge of vocalization. Everything alludes back to the female figure as both a tomb and a womb where the entirety of symbols, images, and sounds originate as an empathic response to a confrontation with the unknown.

The home gallery of Studio Sol with its location in an industrial neighborhood makes a further integument to the many layers of the landscape, capturing the New Weird Divine*, in the most unsuspecting places.

Erin Honeycutt

 *A term used by the writer, Elvia Wilk: ‘The Word Made Fresh: Mystical Encounter and the New Weird Divine.’

Sources: Pereira, Michela. „From the Tabula Smaragdina to the Alchemical Fifth Essence.“ Early Science and Medicine 5, 2 (2000).

All photos by Svenni Speight.

Disbelief – An Interview with Dan Byers

Disbelief – An Interview with Dan Byers

Disbelief – An Interview with Dan Byers

Having recently arrived from a trip to the United States, elements of the political climate were pretty unsettling and fresh on my mind. The newly opened exhibition at i8 gallery, Seeing Believing Having Holding: A Late Summer Show of Five American Artists organized by Dan Byers, immediately spoke to this sense of being unsettled and of the disconnection between what you read in the news and the reality of the situation. The title of the exhibition spoke to this sensation especially. Even the added addendum – a late summer show of five American artists – implied that it was the end of a season (or an era) and it was now time to return to a new arrangement of our basic sense perceptions with the help from the studios of artists working in a variety of mediums from all over the US: Kelly Akashi (Los Angeles, CA) Kahlil Robert Irving (St. Louis, MO), Michelle Lopez (Philadelphia, PA), B. Ingrid Olson (Chicago, IL), and Daniel Rios Rodriguez (San Antonio, TX).

In an interview with the Dan Byers, he filled me in on how these nuances inspired the exhibition.

Dan Byers: I think you are definitely picking up on things I was thinking and feeling. That is how the show came about: through an intuitive sense of artists I was interested in and a broad confusion between sight and touch. When Börkur and I first started talking about the show we were going to do something political that touched on the situation in America. However, the exhibition became something that addressed in very visceral terms what it feels like to be in America right now, which is really scary, unsettling, and destabilizing.

I walked back from that feeling towards work that was more metaphorical in the way it contains those confrontations and engagements but perhaps not explicitly engaging in them. The idea of ‘late summer’ came up because these summer group shows that are usually an opportunity to be light and playful. It certainly has that bit of late summer, like you said, a feeling of harvesting and getting back to organizing all the changes that happened over the summer, but it also has connotations of late empire and this moment where the shadows are longer and there is this anxiety that starts to creep in. It’s a bit playful that I’m putting ‘American artists’ in the title. I was hesitant because a lot of artists don’t like to be identified by their nationalities. It always has problematic connotations but at the same time, it is five young American artists from all over the country. As an American and an American curator, it feels important for me to let people know that there are things happening all over the country and that it’s a big country and people are doing things all over the country, responding to a specific vernacular and responding to what is happening. That is all part of a subtext to the show.

Seeing Believing Having Holding (exhibition overview)

Kelly Akashi: Curled Lifeform, 2018

B. Ingrid Olson: Vertical Column Whet Girdle, 2017
B. Ingrid Olson: Note (Kiss the architect on the mouth and paint a black stripe laterally across her forehead), 2018

All of a sudden these more process-based ideas around the confusion of touch and vision, sight and sense began to take on more political dimensions in terms of the skepticism of fact right now and the way in which fake news and even in my own disbelief when I wake up in the morning and read the headline news. I think to myself that this can’t actually be happening but it is very much happening so all of the sudden this idea of trying to confirm what you see with another sense is very prevalent. I think touch is the most affirming sense if we had to rank them although they each have their own qualities.

Daniel Rios Rodriguez: Snake Theory, 2017

Overview of works by Daniel Rios Rodriguez.

So this idea that the visual has its own tactile dimension to it is the thing that brings the works in the show together. They are images that have to be touched and even the things that have photographic processes come about through contact with a thing like Kelly Akashi’s photographs. They are a photogram of light through an object so it has a sculptural dimension to it. A lot of them are sort of hand-held and have that relationship to the body in a way. I think bodies feel very vulnerable right now on many levels as they are being attacked by society and by the government. I think that sense of corporeal vulnerability is also something I was thinking about throughout the works in different ways.

Erin: There are so many points that the exhibition touches on that are all so relevant right now. Just walking here and noticing how people are in a crowd and just looking down at their phone with a festival going on around them. I was just thinking about that as I arrived how no one is really anywhere they actually are.

B. Ingrid Olson: Splayed Corner, endless room, 2018

Michelle Lopez: C3PO, 2008

Dan: Right, and this sense of receding into ourselves that is very much aided by the phone and by that posture which alludes to the fact that all of these works are very much studio-based works. These are artists who have studio practices so there is a retreat that is inherent in making these objects that is necessary to have an engagement with the outside world. That sense of the studio space of making physical, trial and error work that is very handmade is very different than work made on the street that is external, relational, social, or all of these things. I think these works all have a very political dimension but it is filtered through the subjectivity of that specific person and that specific hand before it goes back out into the world.

Kahlil Robert Irving: Small block – Mixed Melodies (Jason Stockley can’t run, Google Scroll), 2018

Kahlil Robert Irving: Compacted Grit & Glamour, 2018

I always think of Philip Guston in the 1960s retreating to his studio in Woodstock, New York and making these incredibly radical political paintings that could only be made at a distance from where all this trauma was happening. That tradition I feel is easy at this very precarious political moment. I have to say I’ve never been to more political protests than in the past year. There is this sense that if you’re not showing up then you really have to question what you are doing with your time. I think with this work there is a sense of safety in your privacy where the work is made before it goes out in the world. I love the fact that this gallery has huge windows visible from the street and people interact with it like a storefront as a place of commerce but also the social realm and that sense of transparency has been great for the show.

Erin: I was also thinking about how the exhibition gives an accurate visceral sense of what it feels like to be in America right now that, in my experience, is not easy to convey. I could go on a lot of tangents with this.

B. Ingrid Olson: Kiss the architect on the mouth, 2018

Seeing Believing Having Holding (exhibition overview)

Dan: Living in Cambridge, Massachusetts in this elite, liberal enclave under Obama I could feel self-conscious of being protected in a way, but now I’m quite happy being in a democratic area, although we definitely have Trump supporters in Massachusetts. I have to say there is a sense of safety. On the day he was elected, there was an immediate correlation in Boston of racist graffiti and people being harassed. There was a total cause and effect and people suddenly felt they had permission and were emboldened to do this. I think that sense of what one does with their personal lives becomes more poignant. I think with these artists there is a sense very much of the specific lived corporeal, subjective, psychological experience of each person and that sense of the intimate and the personal. Even if the show isn’t about politics or Trump you can look at how the show is about the every day of this moment.

Erin: I think this turning inward towards very intimate perceptions is becoming obviously more and more a place where we can find truth, something that is starting to be talked about more openly. This can be seen in the return to craft in the show; I see these delicately balanced objects and porcelain pieces.

Dan: Yes, I think that and the strength of having ones’ own place in the world when you turn to face the world. You have to tend your own garden before you can turn outwards and I think it does feel like one wants to have things settled with yourself so you can be a strong presence out in the world and behave in a way that feels brave to the situation. Everyone is going about their daily business and has their jobs, lives, relationships, but there is this constant drumbeat. It is always about trying to figure out how to balance how much you engage with it and how much you do your own thing.

Erin: Do you have a background in art practice?

Dan: I have an undergraduate degree in studio art and usually, when I do a studio visit with an artist I have obviously the knowledge I gained from working in galleries and museums, but my initial engagement is as someone who is thinking about what it means to make those decisions in the studio. These decisions are around materials and what the conceptual implications of those choices might be and how hard or easy it is do something. In some ways, this is much more close to my initial engagement because I am just as interested in how the work was made influences what they mean.

Erin: The materiality of the work and the actual physical space in which it exists in the exhibition really works as a metaphor with our own bodies in the way that the visitor has to really navigate the space with all the senses. With the disbelief of the material being one of the major metaphorical gestures being made in the show, I think you have definitely found a way to capture part of that aesthetic reality of this moment.

Erin Honeycutt

Seeing Believing Having Holding: A Late Summer Show of Five American Artists will be on view until October 27th at i8.

Photo Credit: Helga Óskarsdóttir
All photos are from the exhibition Seeing Believing Having Holding
Courtesy of the artists and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik

INFÆDD // NATIVE – Photographic works by Nina Zurier at Studio Sol

INFÆDD // NATIVE – Photographic works by Nina Zurier at Studio Sol

INFÆDD // NATIVE – Photographic works by Nina Zurier at Studio Sol

The newest addition to exhibition spaces in Reykjavik, Studio Sol, held its inaugural opening on Saturday, July 28th, 2018 with a solo exhibition by the photographer Nina Zurier. Located in the Höfðabakki neighborhood of Reykjavik, the space brings attention to often overlooked places around the city that offers much more space than the downtown area can provide. The curator of the new space is Daria Sól Andrews who grew up all her life between California and Iceland. She is currently studying in the art curation MFA at the University of Stockholm. Andrews settled in Reykjavik earlier this year, stumbling across a living space where she saw the potential to carry out her long-time plan of opening an exhibition space. As a home-based exhibition space, her goal is to keep the elements of its familial atmosphere instead of trying to fight against that inherent aspect to the space. “The aim,” she says, “ is to embrace the rawness of it being my home.”

“When I started this process I was considering heavily how much I want to veer away from the white cube aspect. I decided to let it fall into place naturally. I’m in Höfðabakki where there are a lot of warehouse spaces and car dealerships with a lot of artist studios popping up, too, however. Many people are relocating here from the center of Reykjavik and because it’s Reykjavik you can’t even call it an outskirt because it’s only a five minutes drive. I want it to have this aspect of allowing people to come out of downtown and away from their comfort zone. I want the space to operate in a mode of open experimentation with artist talks and curator talks and performances as well as exhibitions. It is very important to me that this space functions as not only a familial, community centered space, but a space that opens and facilitates dialogues that this home aspect can be especially conducive to perhaps.”

Studio Sol arrives as part of a long history of alternative exhibition spaces in Reykjavik, for example 1hv, or Fyrsta hæð til vinstri (first floor to the left), another home-exhibition space presenting contemporary art in Reykjavik. There was also Gallery GÚLP! In the mid-90’s, which held shoebox-sized exhibitions. There is currently Gangurinn (The Corridor), another small home-exhibition space set in a corridor. There was also Gallery Gestur, which existed in a small silver briefcase, which created the atmosphere of an exhibition opening in whatever space the briefcase was opened. There is also a gallery in a rusty shed, The Shed, which migrates around different inconspicuous locations around Reykjavik.

The opening of Studio Sol presents a solo exhibition by the American photographer, Nina Zurier. Zurier first came to Iceland in 2002, pulled here by a love of horses, and has been living between California and Iceland since 2011. Andrews says her interest in exhibiting Zurier for the opening of Studio Sol stems from the way the artist’s interest in Iceland and her inherent focus on darkness and light in photographing Iceland is also such an important part of being an Icelander. “In this way,” she says, “she straddles two worlds of being a photographer and being an Icelander. Her photographs have this element in which you look at them and if you are from this place or you are familiar to it you just get this immediate emotional memory to it.” The exhibition is titled INFÆDD//NATIVE and speaks to this question of home, roots, community, connection, and cultural memory. The notion of being native is presented as something that can be defined as being situated between that which is known and that which is unknown, an idea that resonates with global current events.

“Making a perfect image is not what I’m after,” says Zurier. “I studied photography in art school but I would like it to be something else. I’m also not interested in documentation or political or social content. So it really is about the image and creating a feeling for the image that I respond to that other people would respond to as well. So my work is sometimes beautiful, but definitely grim and dark. I’m really interested in framing. A lot of the ones in the exhibition are taken out of windows, so I’m very interested in the frame, even if it is not a window. I end up making something that is framing the image.”

The mostly black and white photographs by Zurier capture a feeling for Iceland that is difficult to name, but is expressed completely in the way the Angelica plant is captured bending in the wind and the way the sunlight creates a neon frame of light coming around the drawn shades through the window. In another photograph, the back of a horse’s head leans before you, with a light catching in the parting mane, appearing to pull the horse upwards to the light. Other scenes seem almost more real than memory because the scene is so commonplace; the concrete edges of a pool separating water from earth, a path of folded bracken leading to a low dark forest, child footprints in the snow appear in some kind of order, bird-like, almost a dance. Window reflections become part of the terrain in black and white, a fog that that the light makes part of a natural reflection from the sun. Zurier’s photographs seem to capture the vocabulary of imagery that has been built up in Iceland over centuries, contributing to the way cultural memory is eternally returning as a material form of memory, even in its ruin. In another photograph, there is a glimpse of youth in an everyday scene in which equipment becomes words in the landscape – set starkly into the lay of the land.

Nina Zurier is an artist living and work in California and Reykjavík. Her work includes books and installations of her photographs as well as projects involving images from archives and other sources. Several years of research in the Reykjavík Photography Museum’s archive resulted in the book Ef ég hefði verið… Reykjavík 1950-1970, published in 2015 by Crymogea in Reykjavík, as well as an exhibition and large-scale artwork made up of small details from the archival photographs.

The exhibition INFÆDD//NATIVE will be on view from July 28th until September 15th, 2018.

Erin Honeycutt

Photos by Hlynur Helgi Hallgrímsson
Studio Sol address: Vagnhöfði 19, 110 Reykjavík
Website: Studio Sol


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