D44 Claire Paugam: Attempting the Embrace n°31 – processing the unknown

D44 Claire Paugam: Attempting the Embrace n°31 – processing the unknown

D44 Claire Paugam: Attempting the Embrace n°31 – processing the unknown

Claire Paugam is the 44’th artist to exhibit in Reykjavík Art Museum’s series, happening in the D-gallery. An ongoing program that has been going on since 2007, it holds the focus of inviting emerging artists, who are considered to be an important impact on the Icelandic art scene, to develop a project within the walls of room D.

Claire Paugam is a multidisciplinary French artist (b. 1991) based in Reykjavík. After graduating from the Iceland University of the Arts’ MFA program in 2016, Claire has exhibited in various art institutions in Iceland and abroad such as the 5th Biennale for Young Art (Moscow, 2016) and the Icelandic Photography Festival at Gerðarsafn Art Museum (2018). While primarily focusing on her own art practice, she forms an artist duo with new media artist Raphaël Alexandre, together they create installations and stage designs. The artist is also involved in curatorial projects such as Vestur í bláinn (2020) with Julius Pollux Rothlaender. She is the recipient of the Motivational Art Prize 2020 delivered by the Icelandic Art Prize and board member of The Living Art Museum.

Photo: Claire Paugam

The following interview is taken in Claire’s studio on Seljavegur, by her working desk, facing the ocean.

A: Where does the sound come from, that plays in the background of the installation?

C:The sound is not fixed with the light, it is independent. A natural sound that is recorded and then distorted. I do not wish to reveal what it is, rather I choose to play with the idea that the sound is unidentified. So I keep it a secret, even the curator doesn’t know where the recording comes from. This is one of the elements I work with, to let the viewer free to interpret many things. I let specific elements be hidden to hold on to this possibility of having everything open for the viewer to interpret. There’s a tendency now in the art world that the viewer is provided with so much information, scientific backup and various texts by philosophers that are interwoven within the exhibitions. In this installation, I choose to play with the unknown within it instead of letting the exhibition be loaded with too much content. The senses are what is utilized at its utmost rather than to have the purpose of an intellectual approach.

A: What was the build up towards this piece and how has it developed?

C: I applied to the open call with sketches, the core idea in Attempting the Embrace n°31 remained throughout the process. The application was about being in tune with the world and what that means, are
we as humans meant to dominate the landscape? Or are we meant to just be a part of it, to be absorbed by it almost? The thing is that our world is constantly changing, activated by scattered forces all around. Life is based on uncertainty and entropy. With this installation, I wanted to question our position within the landscape as humans, but also express that everything is ever-changing in many unpredictable ways.

The title is similar to many art pieces of mine, it is kind of a series of works and they are all called Attempting the embrace, with a number following. This is the 31st, in the latest outcome of the series. First, it was a lot about connecting the outside and the inside of the body. Then about visual analogy, to think of minerals and organics being alike. Visual analogy is connecting images with meaning. Asking questions like, what is alive and what is not alive? Are stones dead? What about minerals? Are they alive? In this project, I am researching the landscape as a whole and our relationship with it.

In this context, it’s interesting to think about a specific painting by Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818. It’s so majestic and beautiful. There are different interpretations of this painting. To me it’s a man who went very far to see this beautiful landscape which is yet dangerous, he’s on a rock and he could fall. He’s high up, it’s windy and the sea is violent and sublime, but yet this feeling is portrayed within the work that the man is dominating the landscape and that he is above it. This is quite a common point of view in our western culture. That we dominate our environment and that it has to be tamed and utilized almost to please us. In Iceland and some other volcanic territories, we know very well that the landscape is stronger than us. The earth is living and expanding in various ways, some that we don’t have any control over.

The viewer is positioned in front of a great landscape, which could be anywhere. The viewer is then free to project themselves into the landscape. The bench is an invitation to sit and contemplate. I chose this specific photograph because it could be anywhere in the world, apart from Iceland. Within the installation you are faced with the grand landscape, the image leaning on the wall, so it is obvious it’s not real. Rather it is an object. Then the substance surrounds it, an undefined substance, which expresses this feeling that we don’t know how the landscape will evolve. This slimy looking texture is on the floor. It looks very much like the inside of a body. 

Photo: Claire Paugam

The unknown substance surrounding the image is crawling towards the viewer, when you bend over it, it becomes a little landscape. Here, body and landscape become very close beings to me. The sculpture is coming from behind the photograph, it is in my opinion the force that pushes the photograph off the wall and tilts it. When I look at the sculpture, I don’t see a specific object. I wanted it to be completely shapeless, to escape any direct reference. It had to look slimy, as if touching it you would change its shape. It is the disruptive element of the installation.

The light is constantly changing in the room. When the light changes, it indicates that time passes by; you could also imagine that a cloud is hiding the sun. The colours change and this movement gives life to the piece.

The cloud passes and you get the sun again, I wanted to create all these little changes to create this organic feeling within the installation. Sometimes the lights start to flicker fast which is not something that happens with the sun. It is to let the viewer know that it’s an artificial surrounding. To create this question within the experience if it’s a malfunction or not, to play with the natural and the odd. The lights and the sculpture are some kind of a disturbance, something that maybe wasn’t supposed to be there.

Perhaps that’s why in the miniature, the sculpture takes over most of the space, to the point of overflowing. Because it has this strong urge to exist. Maybe to show how the landscape does take over and that it actually is the one that is dominating us.

Photo: Vigfús Birgisson

A: What were you hoping for the viewers to experience within the installation?

C: The bench is there to invite the viewers to sit on it, to resemble the experience of going to a park or a specific viewpoint. To create this impression of being at a scenery. It’s an invitation to stop and enjoy what’s in front of you in a contemplative state. Also, to hopefully help the viewers to be visually immersed in the image. When you sit you don’t have the same relationship with what you are looking at, it’s a different experience from standing in a museum – of course, you can still stay and contemplate but you somehow are reminded that you are a visitor.

When you are sitting in front of this massive image, I am hoping you forget that you are in a museum. My wish is that you can feel fully immersed in the art piece. In this state, as the viewer, you are probably more open to noticing how the light changes, to experience the various effects within the installation as you slow down. Maybe the lights will change, and the sound will come on – in that position you are most likely in a better state to experience what was meant to be experienced. I think a lot about how the viewer approaches
the installation. In this installation, the viewer is free to sit on the floor, stand still, walk around and/or sit on the bench.

To enter the space, you have to go through white curtains, they lead you to a white space, a breathing point. This in-between space is also the way out. It is to enhance the feeling of how this installation is a world of its own, with its own rules and laws, unlike the rest of the museum. That’s why you must go through the in-between space to shift to another reality. It can create the effect of being in a strange dreamlike place.

Photo: Claire Paugam

A: Can you explain the strange and unknown within your practice, to elaborate further on how it is connected to your new installation and threads of thinking?

C: It comes from a fascination for the insides of our bodies, as they are out of reach. Entering our bodies to see how we are inside goes against our primary instinct of self-preservation. A landscape that lives in darkness and lives by its own rules. We don’t decide at what rate our heart is beating, we are living in symbiosis but yet it’s an unattainable force living by its own rules. I love to think about the textures of our bodies as they currently are, trapped in darkness, to wonder how it would be to become a small explorer to go within and enter these worlds. Also I wonder how this resembles the insides of the earth or some other specific kinds of landscapes, which we can relate this to.
For me, this is a part of the unknown, to think and dream about these different realms. Thinking about the inside and the outside of something, how one inside can be the outside of something else. Just depends on how you position yourself within these ideas. It is also interesting to connect these ideas with the possibilities of extraterrestrial life and such potentials. That is often the narration within sci-fi as well, to ponder this question of what is outside of us. There’s a play of proportions as there is always something that is beyond us, no matter how much we study our environment.

This is very much related to my fascination with the landscape of my own body, the landscape of my environment that is so big and huge, and then all this potential landscape that is outside of earth. Again, always thinking about the inside and outside of something. Nothing of what we know is set in stone, it’s all bound to have its own rhythm and change. Also as our definitions are constantly being reformed, like what we define life as. The way we define our environment is a fluctuating concept. There’s a lot of unknown still within what we know.
I also work a lot with the idea of shapelessness, so a shape that has no shape. That’s a very paradoxical word since everything has a shape. But yet there are some concepts and forms that we consider as a society to be shapeless, like a spit, or a cloud, or our intestines. This concept for me is a door to open, to get into the unknown. Some objects are hard for our brains to fully grasp. Like the concept of a balloon is really easy to understand, but others require something a lot different. Because it’s mysterious and unclear the structures of these things. They are certain attempts to express the unknown. I have been so deeply obsessed with these ideas, like how to create certain textures and such. It is quite hard to put these things and feelings into words since it’s so much about visual and sensory experiencing.

Andrea Ágústa Aðalsteinsdóttir

Featured image, photo by: Hildur Inga Björnsdóttir

Björk Hrafnsdóttir went to Sequences opening weekend – here’s what she thought

Björk Hrafnsdóttir went to Sequences opening weekend – here’s what she thought

Björk Hrafnsdóttir went to Sequences opening weekend – here’s what she thought

Sequences real time art festival is an independent artist-run festival held biannually in Reykjavík. This tenth edition also reaches out of Reykjavík with exhibitions in Akureyri, Hveragerði and Ísafjörður.

“Time has come” is the title of Sequences this year curated by Þóranna Björnsdóttir and Þráinn Hjálmarsson. I believe that the title is very fitting to how many of us are feeling right now after 19 months various restrictions and uncertainty. It’s time to get out and experience some real time art!

Skerpla Ensemble performance.

For the Opening event of sequences at Veröld – Hús Vigdísar I took the bus nr.12 at five o’clock on Friday. Thinking I could easily use the same ticket (which is valid for 1h15min) to go back downtown to continue my exhibition hopping, I was wrong. I knew I was going to Elísabet K. Jökulsdóttir’s performance, the festivals honorary artist, called Stories of Creation. We were ushered into a lecture hall and after a speech by the curators the artist came to the podium. In her performance lecture which was accompanied by a sousaphone player who interrupted her at various stages of her speech she tried to define creativity and innovation with a formula she had developed for creation/destruction. At times it felt like I was sitting in a philosophy class I had not prepared for and being an MA student in Curatorial Studies my attention span for lectures is usually gone by Friday afternoons.

Following were stories of creation from different people connected to different cultures, like India, Kurdistan, Japan, Russia and Nordic mythology to name a few. These stories described the creation of the world according to different cultures and places and in some cases the creation of individuals. It was a welcoming revisit of stories most of us were taught in school. It included an impressive reciting of the Dwarf Count from Völuspá and the telling of the Japanese creation story in Japanese told by sounding out old Chinese symbols. Although I did not understand a single word it was still a beautiful mediation of sounds.

Still from the movie Munnhola, obol ombra houp-là by Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir.

At Bío Paradís on Friday evening the artist and poet, Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir, premiered her film Munnhola, obol ombra houp-là. Bíó Paradís was packed with people and Salur 1 filled up quickly. Seeing a video work in a movie theatre is a special experience. There is a commitment you make by sitting down in a theatre that you don’t make when passing a video work on a screen in an exhibition. Although this film had a beginning and an end, I quickly stopped trying to figure out the storyline and just enjoyed the shorter narrative aspects between each scene and the incredible quality of production. This 30min film is a series of performances that takes you on a surrealist journey with divers fascinating characters and different voices. There will be another showing on Sunday 24th at 20:00 and I am tempted to see it again.

Lucky 3 at their opening performance PUTI at Open.

Lucky 3 is an artist collective that consist of Darren Mark, Dýrfinna Benita Basalan and Melanie Ubaldo. The group put on the festivals opening performance PUTI at Open which lasted for 8 hours from 12:00-20:00. I got there around two and walked into the space in my dirty boots due to a mud puddle placed right at the entrance. The white space was impeccable clean aside from the dirty footmarks of the visitors. With this long endurance performance, they were referencing the 8 hour workday and the racial hierarchy in the workplace. The artist, who all share a Filipino heritage, wore white deconstructed janitor workwear made and designed by Darren Mark while mopping the floor which the visitors continuously make dirty with their muddy shoes. While they were mostly silent, they would sometimes say the word “puti”, the Filipino word for “white” while white visitors were in the space. By both being in their way as they mopped the floor around me and making more mess as I moved out of the way I felt a familiar uncomfortable feeling of not knowing the “right” thing to do which can result in unconscious bias. The cleaning cart which had running water placed in the middle of the space had a sculptural quality making me think of a water fountain. This subtle juxtaposing reference of the bourgeoise water fountain and the cleaning cart is just one reason of why I think this work is great. The performance also lives on for the rest of the festival as recordings from the security cameras placed in the space.

Gunnhildur Hauksdóttir’s work Skriða. Borgar Magnason did a sound performance in the middle of the installation at the opening.

Next stop was the Marshall house where The Living Art Museum and Kling & Bang host the exhibition /CREATION /DESTRUCTION. The title is a reference to a text by Sigurður Guðmundsson from 1969 which is a part of the exhibition and can be read in the catalogue and on the festival’s webpage. In his text Sigurður tries to describe the phenomenon of time as experienced by people in a society, making connections between time and art. Finally claiming that while time eventually destroys everything, art might have the longest life expectancy. As I walk into The Living Art Museum, I realise I just missed a performance, seeing Borgar Magnason packing his double bass in the middle of Gunnhildur Hauksdóttir’s installation Skriða. It consists of audio work, drawings on the wall and rocks suspended in the air in satin ribbons, forming pendulums. The work references the massive landslide that fell from the mountain above Seyðisfjörður last December which had a big impact on the community and is still very fresh in our minds.

Other works in the space include If starting at the end by Björk Guðnadóttir, an installation with textile works, wall paintings and video, and Pictures at an exhibition by Pétur Magnússon, which is made up of pictures of works from the collection of The Living Art Museum. He references the tradition of painting paintings at the Salon exhibitions at Paris and plays with the proportions and perspective we often have on works in an exhibition space. A few more sculptures were placed around the space. Different textures and various linear forms are the main characteristics of these works by Guðlaug Mía Eyþórsdóttir called Variations. I hear Guðlaug explain that music was her inspiration and that she is materialising musical elements as sculpture. In the front space of the Living Art Museum 6th grade students from Fellaskóli, under the supervision of Gréta S. Guðmundsdóttir, take the role of curator of the museum’s collection. The students selected the works that are on display based on their interest and favour. This project is very inspiring, and I hope that it continues. I would have loved this in 6th grade (and today).

Up in Kling & Bang the phrase “MUNDU TÖFRANA” (REMEMBER THE MAGIC) was being painted on the front wall over and over under the guidance of the honorary artist Elísabet K. Jökulsdóttir. Next, I walk into Ásta Fanney’s work Oasis of endless change. Playful and colourful shapes are on the floor, against the wall and suspended from the ceiling balancing each other. In my second viewing I notice clear individual plastic letters on the floor. This reminded me of a playground but where none of us knew how to play the games. In the catalogue it says the work is a result of a playful research on shapes of letters and musical note symbols creating visual scores that serve as sculpture stations for performance. Soon The Icelandic Sound Poetry Choir or Nýlókórinn, performed a version of the work reinforcing my playground game theory which might also stem from the binging of show Squid Game I did that week. During the performance I was continuously waiting for someone to be out of the game and falling to the floor.

Still from Traverse by Andreas Brunner.

The next space was taken over by Andreas Brunner and his work Traverse. Light plastic sculptures in the shape of smoke held up with black metal stands, lightbulbs in concrete boxes and a 2-channel video following a little turtle with a globe on his back. I had had the pleasure of seeing the video work before and being told about the Cosmic Turtle by Andreas since I somehow either forgot or never learned about this strange and funny mythology. The cosmic turtle or world turtle appears in Hindu mythology, Chinese mythology and the mythologies of the indigenous people of the Americas. This turtle either contains or supports the world and is worth a google search and also pleasantly connects to Elísabet’s performance Stories of Creation. The last work at Kling & Bang was a beautiful multi-channel audio and video installation called Agape by Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir.

I went back down to the Living Art Museum to see the performance with Guðlaug Mía’s sculptures where Skerpla Ensemble performed and interpreted the sculptures with music. The material aspects of the sculptures affected the interpretations so length could be pitch, fragmentation be rhythm and emptiness silence.

After the performance I decided to call it a day and although Sunday had in store some more opening the aftermath of these two days caught up with me and I spent most of my Sunday at home. The festival is up until the 24th so there is still have time to see the rest! Time is precious to us all and there is always something competing to have some our time and attention, school, work, friends, and social media. But I am happy I spent my time this weekend at Sequences.

Takk fyrir mig!

Björk Hrafnsdóttir

Björk is an Ma student in Curatorial Practice at IUA

Photo credits: From the opening, Björk Hrafnstóttir. Still from the movie Munnhola, obol ombra houp-là courtecy of Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir. Still from Traverse courtesy of Andreas Brunner. 

Removing the Filter: An interview with Auður Lóa Guðnadóttir

Removing the Filter: An interview with Auður Lóa Guðnadóttir

Removing the Filter: An interview with Auður Lóa Guðnadóttir

Auður Lóa’s exhibition Yes/No at the Reykjavík Art Museum reflects the diversity, chaos, and connections between the many corners of the internet. She pulls imagery from pop culture, art history, politics, and personal photographs that she finds by letting herself fall through an online rabbit hole. Curious to see these images out of context, Auður Lóa removes her subjects from the screen into the 3-dimensional world of papier-mâché sculpture. Her exhibition aims to draw new relations, mixing the variety of images one can come across on the world wide web in a single day. In this interview, I caught up with Auður Lóa to discuss this latest exhibition.

Amanda: Starting from the beginning…how did you get your start in artmaking? Do you have any early memories that led you to where you are now?

Auður Lóa: I have been making art since I was really small. I know that it sounds super cheesy, but I think I always wanted to become an artist. I was an introverted kid that just liked drawing. And then I became an artist. It is not a particularly interesting story, but I think it was an obvious choice for me.

Your subjects range from pop culture imagery to references to fine art, is there a connecting theme behind your choices? Where do you find your inspiration?

The imagery is sourced from the internet and books, so all of the images have happened in real life. Many of them are from history, art history, and pop culture. Some of them are actual characters from paintings and some of them are the artworks themselves. Others are just things that exist in the world. For this exhibition, I decided to embrace the chaos and use whichever images sparked my interest. There is a little web of ideas within them. So many of them touch on social justice subjects like feminism and colonialism, but also internet culture, how information travels, and how we make and perceive art. I usually make exhibitions that are narrowed down to one subject. But this time I was interested in branching out and mixing everything together. I was interested to see what would come out of that process. I just wanted to make as many sculptures as humanly possible.

Let’s talk material choices. What drew you toward working with paper-mâché? At first glance, it is easy to assume these are clay figurines, is this your goal?

I initially started working with paper-mâché because it’s really cheap. A lot of the time I have a bad conscience towards working with materials I buy from the store like plaster or clay. I find it hard as an artist to produce new things into this world–especially when the things are just there to just hang around or be kept in storage. I started working with paper-mâché because it took the pressure away from every single item. I wasn’t spending a whole lot of money on each piece and if I was fed up with it, I could just throw it away without thinking about it too much. It is a better environment to create when you have low stakes, to begin with. Because if you buy a shitload of clay you have this pressure of like “yeah, I better do something really nice with this nice clay and special paint and stuff.”

Also, paper-mâché does not constrain me to a specific size and I can work however large or small I want. It is a very hardy material and is nice to work with. I like the feel of it and I like the effect. It is very lumpy and hard to control so the material starts to become present in the work. I get that it looks like clay, but I don’t mind that so much. I draw inspiration from ceramic figurines so the associations to glazed ceramic sculptures is welcome. I would like it to be paper-mâché though, that is my bottom line.

These days, it seems like the mainstream internet aims for flawless, photoshopped images. Your work begins to reject this aesthetic, but at the same time, the final layer of your sculpture is a smooth, shiny coat of glaze–which fits within the ideals of perfection. Is this something that you were thinking about?

No, I don’t think that is very present in my practice. What I like to do with these images from the internet is to take them out of the computer screen. My main focus is what happens when you take these images that are on your computer, or your phone, and make them physical. You experience all your day-to-day imagery on the same screen. So you have the same filter when you read the news, do your social media, watch funny cat videos or porn–if you like that. What I’m interested in is taking all of these images and putting them on the same, equal platform.

The D-hall exhibition series was established for up-and-coming Icelandic artists to hold their first solo exhibition in a public museum. How did you prepare for this exhibition? Did you approach this exhibition differently than your previous ones in artist-run spaces?

Well, for starters it is a great opportunity and a great platform so I was really excited about this big opportunity. This is the biggest exhibition space I’ve had to myself so far. I was really interested and also a bit frightened of that. It’s different working in an established museum because there is staff working at the museum and with you. I was working with a curator and technical assistants. So that is nice and you feel really taken care of. But I also have a real soft spot for the artist-run spaces in Reykjavík. They have a lot to offer in a different way.

Are there any specific pieces in this that have a particularly interesting story? If you can’t decide, tell me about your current favorite.

I have so many favorites! The possum with the babies on her back is one of my favorites. And the big swan vase. And the portrait of Diana Spencer…

I did make some pieces that were from family photographs. My mom and dad are both in the show. And I made my little sister. I used a photograph from an old family photograph when she was just a baby. When we were little, we lived in a former British colony called Malawi in Central Africa. I made some sculptures that pertain to Malawi’s history, and I made a sculpture of my sister where she is being babysat by Janet, a woman who worked in our house. I felt that was an interesting sculpture to make and have this opportunity to have the global phenomenon of colonialism and racism and big subjects, but also staying within a light mood.

I secretly snuck in some sculptures that are really violent, and reference bad parts of history. I have not gotten a lot of comments on it, which is interesting because Icelandic people are not thinking about a lot of this stuff. You can easily go through this exhibition just looking at the cats, so I am guessing that is what most people do. Maybe the political sculptures are a little too hidden, but they are there if somebody wants to delve into them.

Personally, I believe it’s important that they are there. I think the way that you integrate these political sculptures into the show is reflective of how we encounter this kind of information in our lives. Maybe we’re not actively seeking out news about racism, or sexism, or feminism, but it’s there and it’s on the internet. I find it more relatable in that you advertise it as “this is a show about life” instead of “this is an important show about political issues”

Yeah and I also had to think long and hard about my place in talking about these subjects, as a participant in this society. It is important to take a stance or try to talk about this stuff without doing it in a way where people are not receptive to it. Or doing it in a “white savior” way. It is complicated, and I had to think long and hard about how these images should be portrayed and how they should be put in between.

I want to emphasize that I did not want to present the political sculptures in a way that seemed like I was making fun of them, even though they are mixed with humorous imagery. I wanted to do it in a respectful way.

In conclusion, what’s next for you? What are you thinking about these days?

Well, this exhibition was actually postponed twice. It was supposed to be last winter, now it opened in March. I just got all those sculptures out of the studio. The funny thing is I am opening a show at the Leysingar festival in Kompan Alþýðuhúsið at the end of May, so I just went straight into finishing up the works for that show. And then in the summer, I’ll be exhibiting with Staðir in the Westfjords. After that, think I will take a bit of a summer holiday…

Amanda Poorvu

Auður Lóa graduated from the fine arts department of The Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2015. Since then she has worked independently, and in the company of other artists; she has been involved in group exhibitions such as Á Ferð in Harbinger project space, Still life in The Reykjavík Art Museum, and 109 Cats in Sweaters in Ekkisens artspace. In November of 2017 she curated and presented her own work in the exhibition Diana Forever which was held in three locations in Reykjavík, and for which she received the motivational award of the Icelandic Visual Arts Council in 2018.

The show Yes/No takes place at the Reykjavík Art Museum as part of the D-hall exhibition series from 18.03.2021 to 09.05.2021.
Artist website: www.audurloa.com

Photo Credits: Portret of Auður Lóa: Ólöf Kristín Helgadóttir. Photos from exhibition: Artzine

The interview is part of a collaboration between Artzine and a new MA in Curatorial Practice at the Iceland University of the Arts.

Viðtalið er hluti af samstarfsverkefni Artzine og nýrrar meistaranámsleiðar í sýningagerð við myndlistardeild Listaháskóla Íslands á vorönn 2021.

On future and fortune

On future and fortune

On future and fortune

A detailed model of a house in ruins lays on the floor on a pile of black sand, the miniature interior design furniture clashes with the wreckage scattered around the building. The roof, as well as one of the four walls, has collapsed, nonetheless two design metal chairs are placed on the second floor close to a window, a corner where to relax and enjoy the view. A white corridor with a futuristic design resembling that of Star Trek spacecrafts extends outside of the house, goes around it and leads to the inside: a fancy entrance which offers an alternative to stepping through the detritus of the torn down wall and access the house with another perspective. 

The floor of the gallery is demarcated by black lines, a sports field of a game which rules are unknown to us. A chair on the corner, the human-size version of the scaled down design metal chairs in the model of the house, opens up to the possibility of a privileged point of view which is however for no one to enjoy – the gallery is in fact closed and the exhibition can be seen only through the wide window of Harbinger. One of the arms of the chair is replaced by a small metal plinth on which a twelve-faced die lays.

The same die is presented to us in two paintings on the walls of the gallery, but this time is depicted as broken. A painting of a naked person turning their back to us and holding a spear constitutes the only human presence in the exhibition.

Dcethrone (armored luxury), polished steel, sand, dice.

Detail of dice rolling bowl, polished steel, sand, dice.

2020, prospect (20 sided die in 20 pieces), oil on woodboard and 2020, retrospect (20 sided die in 20 pieces), oil on woodboard.

The exhibition Core Temperature by Fritz Hendrik looks at the future of “our house”, planet Earth, it focuses on and brings together two specific perspectives on the fate of the world: that of those who see the future as a sort of Mad Max post-apocalyptic scenery, where extreme global warming and its consequential catastrophic natural events destroy everything humans have built throughout the centuries, bringing the human species to extinction; and that of those who have faith in the humankind technological progress and believe geoengineering will save us.

Global warming and ecology are issues which are taking up more and more space in global discussions about the future of our species, in particular nowadays, since the year 2020 brought us to face the fragility of our humankind. Coronavirus managed to bring the whole world on its knees. We, first world countries citizens and wealthy enough to be able to isolate in our own homes, have found ourselves lost and broken. We renewed and incremented our long lasting relationship with technology, a companion which gives us access to endless entertainment, allowed us to keep working from home and to engage with loved ones when restrictions prohibited us from meeting in person. 

Philosopher Rosi Braidotti in her recent essay We Are In This Together, But We Are Not One and the Same claims that Covid-19 is a man-made disease, it is the result of human interference with the ecological balance. In her opinion it is a paradox that we turned to technology as a result, because that is what caused the problem in the first place. In the same essay she calls for a reconsideration of the binarism between culture and nature, drawing from post/de-colonial and indigenous theories which, in her words, “have a great deal to teach us”. This is for Rosi Braidotti, a time to avoid and fight apocalyptic thinking, it is instead “a time to organize and not agonize”, to reconsider how we live.

Detail of core temperature, mixed media.

Detail of core temperature, mixed media.

Detail of core temperature, mixed media.

The exhibition is strongly inspired by the roleplaying game Dungeon & Dragons, in which players create their own character and embark upon adventures in a fantasy world. The success or failure of actions taken by players are dictated by the rolling of dice. Fortune plays a big role in the game, as well in the exhibition Core Temperature. Dice appear here and there as symbols of the uncertain result of our actions: the future of our world is beyond our control. A die pops up when one scans the QR code on the gallery window with a smartphone, the polyhedric die rolls into our screens and breaks apart. 

Dice are there to feedback on our actions, just like they do in Dungeon & Dragon, to give us a result on which we can adjust our actions for a better future. This does not only concern collective actions taken on a bigger scale by humankind, but also our individual commitment to a more sustainable life-style, small gestures that most of us undertake daily to take care of the environment in the hope to contribute to saving our planet. Despite everything around us collapsing, we still make sure to carefully wash jam jars and beer bottles before putting them in the recycling bin. 

The dice in the exhibition represent the questioning of these actions: Are they even useful in the short or long run? Are we contributing in a tiny, tiny, tiny way to change the course of human destiny?

An intact die lays on the chair of the privilege point of view, the empty chair on the corner to which no viewer has access. Capitalism and social and ecological issues are so strictly connected that it is hard to avoid reading that empty chair as where CEOs of big companies and industrialists sit, as they are the ones who could really make a difference, but the capitalist machine is all about one thing: Profit. 

Installation view of the exhibition Core Temperature.

Detail, Scorelord, digital print, blý.

Donna Haraway, in her book Staying with the Trouble (2016), talks about making-with, which refers to engaging with the present, staying with other planetary organisms which are facing our same fate. The Covid-19 pandemic has proved that no matter how hard humans like to think of themselves as separate from nature, we are as a matter of fact part of the same ecosystem. That single bottle that we decide to recycle might not solve the waste overproduction problem, as well as cycling might not solve the pollution problem, but all the small actions we take represent steps toward a better society, as well as normalise a way of understanding our position in the world and our role in it which leans toward symbiogenesis – becoming by living together.

The dice are broken, but, after all, it doesn’t really matter.

POV (point of view), oil on woodboard.

Core Temperature was on view at Harbinger from November the 13th, 2020 to January the 1st, 2021.

Photographs published with the permission of the artist.
Fritz Hendrik’s website: www.fritzhendrik.com

Stars are the flowers of our skies: The Wildflower

Stars are the flowers of our skies: The Wildflower

Stars are the flowers of our skies: The Wildflower


in conversation with Becky Forsythe and Penelope Smart


In The Wildflower, we’re transported into a disorienting horizon full of flowers, non-flowers, stones, glass and jelly. Bringing together artists and writers from Canada and Iceland, the exhibition questions, uncovers, and challenges various problems and possibilities surrounding nature, land, landscape, and what it means to those who dwell on it. 

As I sink into thoughts about my personal relationship to both the Canadian and Icelandic landscapes, the initial parallels are clear. They both carry postcard-like perceptions of vibrancy. Large, open space, fresh air, and curiosity – from fjords and hot springs in Iceland, to great lakes and tall trees in Canada. They share northern geographies and similar flora. Contemplating the propositions that the show offered brought forward many questions. What is considered an Icelandic landscape, and what is considered a Canadian one? Whose perspectives are given space and whose voices are missing? Where do these stories intersect, and where do they part? 

This conversation with curators Becky Forsythe and Penelope Smart, much like The Wildflower itself, spanned countries, viewpoints, and time(zones). Generously offering a glimpse into their collective vision of the show and beyond, we spoke about traditional craft in contemporary spaces, what inclusion means, notions of past, present and future in landscape, as well as the added labour of distance.

Juliane Foronda: Your shared connection to nature is quite evident. What other interests or curiosities informed this show? 

Becky Forsythe: Themes circulating nature are so vast and varied — and saying The Wildflower is solely grounded in nature only scratches the surface. Our intention was a layered exhibition, and first and foremost one about artists whose works are exciting, re-envision natural material, personal history, or land in new ways. This was sparked by an interest in reimagined craft-based practices as a way to narrow in on familiar, foreign, future landscapes and unfold the layers in those concepts. It is also quite natural for us to work with female artists spanning generations and most definitely emerging into their practices.

Penelope Smart: I think craft based practices have a lot to say to traditional visual art practices in a gallery. They are often connected to domestic skills or “women’s work”, and are now seen as something extremely alive in a contemporary art space. 

BF: Arna weaves, but none are present in the show. She does however weave together preserved flowers in Untitled (2014). Her practice is very conceptual, and I am not sure that she would consider her practice craft-based. But her work stems from a long history of weaving and conceptual fiber sculpture in Iceland with people like Ásgerður Búadóttir (1920-2014), Hildur Hákonardóttir and G.Erla (Guðrún Erla Geirsdóttir), who have opened up the reading of “women’s work” in contemporary art since the fifties, sixties or seventies.

PS: As a curator who loves craft, there’s a powerful point in the idea of permission, responsibility and ownership. Craft can immediately connect you to a community that may or may not be your own, and you may or may not have permission into it. Where I am in northern Ontario, I think there are really generative experiences of how craft is connected to Indigenous communities, traditions, and other histories that you may not be trusted into just because you think it’s interesting. We were thinking about representations of nature in the future, and there is a paradox presenting works that connect to craft practices and traditions. That tension is consciously at play in this show.

BF: This tension in the exhibition plays with work elements that would be identified as craft-based, and how they appear in the artists’ work through other means. For example, Nína’s work, where she embroidered the tablecloth with local flora. This is a skill she acquired as a young woman, and she utilizes her skills, as any artist would, in conceptualizing an installation which is in some ways about the traditional practice of stitching, but reaches beyond that and into an atmosphere of cultural awareness. 

JF: What was your motivation behind fostering this conversation between the Canadian and Icelandic landscapes, and why was this important to you? 

PS: The idea of Iceland and Canada sharing latitudes and plant histories because of their geographies is something we were interested in. The work that was coming out of the studios in each of these places were often related to each other, especially between Newfoundland and Iceland. There’s so much more research that can be done, we’ve just skimmed the surface.

JF: Both Iceland and Canada have strong and specific overarching narratives around what it means to belong to, represent and live on these lands. Many of these narratives surround notions of home, heritage, legacy and access. Are varying perspectives and experiences, such those from the many refugees and immigrants who also inhabit these lands represented in The Wildflower?

PS: I don’t know if all those views are represented. The artists included in the show from Canada and the North are Indigenous, mixed ancestry, or white and/or of European descent, and are drawing from their own experience. I’m okay with someone pointing out that there are people and stories missing from the show, because that’s definitely true and for me, isn’t a reason to feel like the show fails in terms of a show that’s thinking about landscape. If The Wildflower does play a part in bringing up conversations about what’s lacking, where stories are missing about the experience of landscape, or what it means, if anything, to talk about flowers in a northern landscape, that’s great. These conversations are hard, but they’re important.

BF: The view we present is not a universal vision of land or landscape, but an act to deconstruct or counter or address imbalance in contemporary conversations on the topic. The exhibition itself wasn’t so much about transporting the experience of Canada here, or matching it to the experience of Iceland, but about creating a dialogue where questions would arise. Break up out-dated representations, I would say, and present a new potential for landscape. There are experiences that are missing, and that is okay, this is just one open possibility gathered from many voices.


Installation view with Jón Gunnar Árnason, Blómið, 1967, The Wildflower, Hafnarborg 2020. Photo: Kristín Pétursdóttir

Asinnajaq, Where you go, I follow, 2020, digital photograph on polysheer. Photo: Kristín Pétursdóttir

Katrina Jane, Tools of Being, 2020, Portuguese marble. Photo Kristín Pétursdóttir

Leisure, Narrative no. 9 (cotton grass, berry hand, summer 1943 on Bonavista Bay and women picking berries on the barrens 1912-15/2016), Narrative no.13, 2017, photo montage and Invisibility Cloaks, 2020, haskap, blueberries and cranberries on canvas. Photo: Vigfús Birgisson

JF: Is nature and/or land(scape) inclusive? 

BF: The way that nature’s been handled is not inclusive. I guess it depends on who is telling the story? Whose nature is it? And who has access? But if you think about this in the environmental or cultural context, then nature has been misused in a way that’s not inclusive at all and has kept certain cultures, genders and races repressed. 

PS: This is such a good question. I do think this comes up in the sense of nature as a resource. And who has access to it. In the exhibit, there’s the idea of nature as a resource related to different histories and in terms of the materials themselves, the view of nature as something that gives or has given, and gives innately, and how we take.

JF: While this collaboration was always planned to have an element of long distance to some capacity, you came across many unexpected challenges due to COVID-19. Can you talk a bit about the obstacles, joys, added labour and findings that came from this?

BF: The long distance nature of our collaboration meant the transition into the reality of COVID-19 just happened. We had worked in a lot of research and preparation that would take place onsite in Iceland, that was affected quite early on and became impossible. We pivoted in this new vulnerability, like colleagues, exhibitions, museums and galleries everywhere are currently doing, and found new approaches. This transformed our selection of work, but also pushed us, in a good way, to reconsider the place of our work in the field.

PS: It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t able to go to Iceland. At times it felt like constantly asking do we cancel this? became the work. But this was happening for everyone. I often felt like I couldn’t do my fair share because I wasn’t physically there. It didn’t change how the show went for me in the end, as it looked exactly how it would have if I had been able to be there. It makes me excited for the next thing we get to do together.

BF: We were lucky that we walked into this with a consistent working practice, weekly meetings and reliable communication. Onsite/online, we weren’t only doing this long distance, but between time zones too. I really see the labour that went into this exhibition as balanced— whether conceptual, physical or intellectual. It was heartbreaking that Penelope couldn’t be here, because we had organized to a certain extent, but also left room to respond together in the space once we were in it, and we really didn’t get to experience that. That’s an exciting part for me to really feel works in the space, get in there and respond. 

JF: (How) will this collaboration exist after this exhibition is over?

BF:  I think we did walk into it with the idea that this project, and at least the beginnings of this research extend into something beyond. Our list of artists, contributors and writers was so huge. We definitely couldn’t include everyone that we wanted to in The Wildflower, and that leaves us with exciting research to continue. The fact that we’ve survived this massive exhibition at this time, long distance – across countries and with COVID, it’s left me really excited to attempt something new. Whether that’s realised as an exhibition or another format, it’s still up in the air. There’s still a lot that we haven’t unpacked and it’s about finding the right time for those things to happen.

PS: The ways that we experience and engage with art are shifting. It’s no longer about getting on a plane to do research and studio visits, and a lot more art is now happening outside of traditional gallery settings. This means that we have to think about how our work as curators can continue to be of value to audiences moving forward. I’m interested and learning how to talk about land, how to belong to it and where I belong, what does belonging actually translate to, how does history play out in a landscape, how do you claim it or not, and how do you revisit yourself in land. I want to be able to work with artists who are looking at these questions.


Following my question about if nature and landscape was inclusive, Penelope posed a series of questions back at me. She asked how inclusivity feels, where it lives in the body, and what emotions are present when we talk about if nature is inclusive. These questions in relation to my personal relationship with land and nature have been circulating in my headspace since being asked, and I will likely continue to sit in the reality of these thoughts for some time.

I immediately thought of my family’s first winter in Canada, and the small toboggan (sled) my parents got us so we could all play in the snow. I thought of the first time I realised I didn’t know how to ice skate or ski like most of the kids at my primary school could, who were predominantly of white settler-colonial descent. I also remembered my first trip to a friend’s cottage in my teens, and how they taught me how to canoe at sunset. My thoughts also fall back to listening to my father tell me stories throughout my childhood about his rural village in the northern region of the Philippines – stories of mango trees, being showered by the warm tropical rain, playing with spiders, stones and banana leaves, and about how bright the stars were at night. This landscape is completely opposite to the one I grew up in and is one that I barely know myself, but I feel inherently connected to it from these stories that have been told and retold to me over the years. I also thought about when I moved to Iceland, and how my body surrendered to the slow pace of the dark winter. I remembered the first time I saw the northern lights, and I can still hear the sound of the strong winter wind whistling through my window. I also often think of that soft pink light that peeks out around February, which breaks the darkness and makes the whole landscape seem to glow in silence for a few moments.

These thoughts and memories led me to realise that experiences with/in nature and landscape often carry multiple markers or milestones that reveal how much you conventionally belong or fit in. This is particularly true for lands where nature and landscape are deeply interwoven into culture and cultural norms, such as in Iceland and Canada. It’s a curious place, where nature mixes with culture and its conventions, making clear that nature often exists as a refuge or pleasure for the systemically privileged, while it is a border or boundary for many others. The very specific narratives placed around land and landscape affects people’s psyche and their sense of belonging. It also brings up the notion of nature as legacy – what you pass down and leave behind. I often wondered why my father’s village feels so emotionally familiar to me, and I’ve come to realise that knowledge and histories can transcend time and physical space through the radical care of sharing one’s skills, experience and stories with others.

In an attempt to answer Penelope’s questions, inclusion and exclusion, for me, lives in the space(s) between my tear ducts and my chest. My lived experiences and the feelings they come with trigger a quickened pulse from my heavy heart, a tickle in my throat, a runny nose, and misty eyes. Nature exists in multitudes, and for me, can bring up feelings of wonder while often being laced with a mix of gratitude, guilt, clarity and confusion. I like to think of my relationship with nature as a private one in a public space; it’s complex, changing and challenging, and it’s the only one of its kind that I’ll ever know. 

This conversation exists in two parts, with the other being on Femme Art Review.


The WildflowerVilliblómið, was exhibited at Hafnarborg – Centre of Culture and Fine Art (Hafnarfjörður, IS) between August 29 – November 8 2020.

Artists included: Arna Óttarsdóttir, Asinnajaq, Eggert Pétursson, Emily Critch, Jón Gunnar Árnason, Justine McGrath, Katrina Jane, Nína Óskarsdóttir, Leisure, Thomas Pausz, Rúna Thorkelsdóttir

Curated by Becky Forsythe and Penelope Smart

Becky Forsythe and Penelope Smart met at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity in 2017. Their shared work is based in new and meaningful conversations about nature, materials and the feminine. The Wildflower is their first collaborative project.

Becky Forsythe is a curator, writer, and organizer in Reykjavík, Iceland. Penelope Smart is curator at Thunder Bay Art Gallery and writer based in Ontario, Canada. 

Writer’s note of Land Acknowledgement: 

For thousands of years, Tkaronto (Toronto) has been the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat, and it is still home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis from across Turtle Island (North America). Tkaronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit. I have lived on this land for the majority of my life, and it continues to significantly shape and impact my trajectory. I acknowledge and recognize the many privileges that I have because of immigrating to and having grown up on stolen land. I conducted this interview from Glasgow, Scotland, where I am currently based. 

Penelope spoke to me from Thunder Bay, Ontario, located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, which is covered by the Robinson-Superior Treaty. She is grateful to live and work on the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation. Becky spoke to me from Reykjavík, Iceland. She acknowledges traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabeg, specifically Ojibway/Chippewa, the Odawa and Wahta Mohawk peoples whose presence on the land continues to this day, and where her time and experiences lived on this land continue to influence her person and practice. 

Femme Art Review is based out of the traditional territory of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak, and Attawandaron peoples (London, Ontario). Artzine is based out of Reykjavík, Iceland.



Cover picture: Nína Óskarsdóttir, The Feast (Veislan), 2020, mixed media, table cloth embroidered with Icelandic wildflowers and assorted beer jellies. Photo: Kristín Pétursdóttir

Vanishing Crowd: Una Björg and COVID-19

Vanishing Crowd: Una Björg and COVID-19

Vanishing Crowd: Una Björg and COVID-19

From the 16th of January till the 15th of March 2020 Una Björg Magnúsdóttir had an exhibition in the D-gallery of The Reykjavík Art Museum titled Vanishing Crowd. It was, at the time, an intriguing exhibition: integrating the whole space, it was simple and slow but complex, engaging and intimate. It was her first solo-exhibition in a museum, a big opportunity to exhibit in a big space and to work with our biggest museum – an institution that wants to give young artists opportunities. In this exhibition, which could be described as an installation, where the whole space was the work, Una played with our ideas of the event, of magic, of our belief in our common, societal habits; she played with our ideas of rationality, our tendency to venerate and revere, our ideas of expectation and action.

I am not talking about this exhibition today because there is nothing to talk about in art today – no, there is a lot to talk about in art today. I am talking about this exhibition today because the meaning and idea of this exhibition has changed completely in the months that have passed since it’s opening. Our whole art scene is in flux, art everywhere has been cancelled, postponed, made virtual, taken on a completely different form. As I write this our museums are closed, art venues are treading a fine line between wanting guests and keeping them away. The crowd has vanished. We do not know when it will come back. It might not come back, completely, for a long time.

Vanishing Crowd, courtesy of the artist.

Una takes this title, Vanishing Crowd, from the magician David Copperfield. It is a trick he created where he makes a group of people vanish from a stage in a blast of smoke and noise and makes them reappear, almost instantly, somewhere else in the space where he is performing – to the audience’s shocked pleasure. In 2018, however, Copperfield had to explain, in detail, how he executed this trick when a volunteer sued the magician after being injured while taking part. The trick is sadly not as magical as Copperfield would like to have us believe. It mainly involves the people who vanish to go down a hole in the stage and to run, quickly, through a makeshift tunnel leading to the other side of the room. Magic does not have to be complicated, or necessarily a mystery, to work. This is where Una picks up the idea. The magic in her exhibition was partly in how she showed it to us, and then how she showed us how she showed it to us. If she asked us: is this magic? We would answer: no, this is not magic. If it is not magic then it must be reality.

If we are going to construct a convincing narrative for this year 2020, artists – if given the chance – could be the ones to do it. As has been said by others now as we come to terms with this in-and-out dance with the virus, art (maybe especially visual art) can be a tool to look at, interpret, see clearer what it is we are getting used to, what we are being asked to do, what has changed and what is changing.

Today we see the title of Una’s work in a completely different light, obviously, but everything about the work has changed. In a piece for the radio program Víðsjá Sunna Ástþórsdóttir said: Since suspense and excitement are highly infectious emotions, this exhibition is best experienced in a crowd. The crowd, and the different way people behave themselves in a crowd as opposed to alone, changed the way the work was magical, even artistic. Today the most magical thing about this exhibition is possibly that people were able to see it. The opening on the 16th of January was the last “normal” opening of the D-gallery before our present touch-free society took over. At the opening there were lots of people – close to each other, hugging, touching, together – it seems a long time ago. Our idea of the crowd has become complicated. The first COVID-19 infections in Iceland were confirmed on the 28th of February. The Minister of Health instituted a ban on public gatherings on the 16th of March, the day after Una’s exhibition closed. The crowd vanished, overnight. Not by magic but by a forceful intrusion of a very real event into our lives. This reality has changed Una’s exhibition. And it has changed every other exhibition since. And we should think about how it has done so.

Vanishing Crowd, courtesy of the artist.

We could say a ghost has gotten into Una’s work, has taken possession of it. It is unnerving, the exhibition has become a bit frightening, and it has maybe become less understandable, but extremely relevant. Now vanishing means vanishing, we know what that looks like. Vanishing from the streets, from the museums, the pools – to no longer see or be seen in the shared arena of our society. Vanishing means to stay home, to be forced back home, to be sick. For too many people it means to grieve, to pass away. Last winter vanishing meant to go away but it still also meant to come back. We expected to come back, that it would be possible to come back, like the screen in Una’s work that appeared and disappeared on a regular schedule. Today it looks like this timeframe could be longer, the coming back more complicated. It might become a regular thing to open up and close again according to how the virus spreads each time. This is not only forcing postponements and cancellations of events that were supposed to take place over the summer or this autumn, but now having an effect on how and what we organize in the coming year, and even beyond. An indefinite timeframe will only continue to complicate our work. How can we make this situation clearer, more accessible, less claustrophobic?

Because the question now is not if we can come back to normal but rather what will be the new normal we come back to? Should we expect a crowd or not? How important were openings to us? What is an extended opening? Hopefully this will be a normal where there is a vaccine and a definitive answer to this threat has been found. Not a normal of apathy, tiredness, and an aggressive politicization of this situation. And even though we might sense that there has been a rupture between then and now, between pre-virus and post-virus, we cannot look at this event in a vacuum. This virus happened to a society with a certain structure and a certain context and the response to it exists within that same context.

We are seeing, in real-time, a reevaluation of how we perceive the value art has in our society. For the first time, it seems, a sitting Minister of Culture has a clear idea of the challenges an artist faces in their day-to-day work, and how the cultural infrastructure in Iceland is not at all prepared to deal with an emergency, of this sort or indeed any other. We are seeing a conversation start to develop around how we should value museums, galleries, art institutions, when that value cannot be counted in attendance figures and ticket sales. That is not to say that ticket sales were ever a reliable indicator of, say, the success of a museum in Iceland, but there is a clear difference between 1,000 guests (with the goal of attracting more) and none. Maybe especially so in the eyes of a government official attempting to leverage artistic production as, say, a tourist attraction. This is a necessary conversation that we need to engage with.

The first lockdown in the early spring did not last long enough for us to be forced to think deeply about what effect this would have on art in Iceland. We were able to open back up relatively quickly, and we quickly tried to get things back to normal. Now, however, we see that this could very well take a long time, and that art as we knew it will not come back overnight, but most likely gradually and in steps. And if we take that position we must take time now to develop these conversations. What does art look like without the usual relationship between artwork and exhibition guest? Can moving art into the virtual realm ever do more than to remind us how much, in our constantly distracted online existence, we now miss actually physically interacting with objects, spaces, people? If COVID-19 has forced us to look at our world and think about what we really think is important then we might also be able to ask ourselves how brave and how new we can remake our world? Or are we looking for it to be the same as it was? In any case, the money that the government is now putting into the culture sector should spur us to take on this conversation and to bring it to a wider audience.

Vanishing Crowd, courtesy of the artist.

It is not possible to fully express how Una’s exhibition has changed or will change, or will mean in the end. We might not even know really what the magic there is or was, or what or where the art was exactly. Because we are still too deep inside this event. Where the pillars of this society we have built are trembling, possibly shaking. Where nearly all of the day-jobs that artists have relied upon for the past decade have disappeared. Where meeting friends and family, or going to the studio, has become a threat and a calculation of odds and safety precautions.

We know that this virus has already changed art because it has changed the world. It is important to think about what has changed. It might not be obvious. This virus enters into us now and we will come to see our history from a different body. Hopefully we will see the stage at some point from the other side of the room – appearing again in the crowd as if by magic. But we are still running somewhere through the tunnel. The masked audience is looking through the smoke to the stage and still do not see anyone.

Starkaður Sigurðarson


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