By Water – Icelandic artists on the shores of Finland | Tammisaari, Finland.
Four exhibition spaces, and outdoors in the town of Tammisaari, Finland.
June 4th – September 4th 2016.
By Water – Icelandic artists on the shores of Finland, is a major exhibition mounted by the Pro Artibus Foundation, which will extend across four exhibition spaces, and outdoors in the town of Tammisaari, in summer 2016. The project continues the series of exhibitions of Nordic contemporary art produced by Pro Artibus, and is the most extensive showing of Icelandic contemporary art ever held in Finland.
The theme of the exhibition is the relationship between water and people. The starting point is the significance of water in Icelandic culture and society. In Iceland as well as Finland the sea has been something that both divides and unites. Throughout the history of humankind the question of water and its use, ownership of water and its conservation and protection, have been interwoven with culture, trade, industry and art. This everyday theme, humankind’s dependence on water, is a good starting point for an exhibition that presents the diversity and richness of Icelandic contemporary art.
The exhibition will spread out across various municipalities and exhibition spaces like an archipelago. In Helsinki it will be shown at the Amos Anderson Art Museum and Forum Box gallery. In Tammisaari it will be at Gallery Elverket, Villa Schildt and in outdoor spaces in the town. The individual contributions have all been planned with the character of the exhibition space in mind. The artists represent the polymorphous indiscipline of Icelandic contemporary art, and the choices have been guided more by an interest in the differences between Icelandic artists than by a desire to find national common ground.
The contributing artists represent different generations and approaches, but they have all worked with the theme of water prior to this exhibition. At the Amos Anderson Art Museum:Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir, Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir, Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir and Rúrí. Gallery Elverket: Olga Bergmann & Anna Hallin, Birgir Snæbjörn Birgisson, Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir and Gunnar Jónsson. Tammisaari outdoor areas: Unndór Egill Jónsson and Finnbogi Pétursson. Villa Schildt: Bjarki Bragason. Galleria Forum Box:Kolbeinn Hugi.
The title of the exhibition contains a minor play on words. The Finnish Veden varassaimplies dependence on water, but also finding oneself in water and being there, and implicitly staying on the surface. Trampa vatten, the Swedish title of the exhibition, refers primarily to staying on the surface of the water. The English By Water is linked to being beside water, along with the way things are transported with the aid of water, via water or waterways. The trilingual title is also aimed at those who deal with these three languages every day. Multilingualism suits small nations that often have to communicate in a language other than their native tongue.
Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir (b. 1976) graduated from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 2000 with a BFA with honors in Fine Arts; she received her MA in New Genres from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004. Transformation, disguise and play are essential elements of her work, as are references to ceremony and rituals. In her performances Ásdís has employed a theme of destruction, crushing glitter balls under high heels and smashing dishes while reciting texts and dressing up in various costumes. Ornate and spectacular motifs—such as fireworks, Christmas decorations and other frills—are distinctive features in Ásdís’s work.
Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir, born in last century in Iceland, works in the fields of visual arts – mostly in sculpture, video, performance and sound. At the core of her work is the individual’s existential struggle within him or herself – and with the structures and systems that surround him/her.
Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir (b. 1969) studied at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts and received her BFA and MFA from California Institute of the Arts; she has also studied in Germany and Maine, U.S.A.
A founder of Kling & Bang Gallery, Hekla has curated several exhibitions and has lectured at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. Magic is a leitmotif in Hekla’s work as she seeks to capture the “perfect moments” when wonderful things appear unexpectedly and in the most unlikely places. Her multimedia installations, such as her sound-reactive cold cathode light sculptures of fireworks or waterfalls in dialogue with audio and video, have been exhibited internationally to wide acclaim.
Sirra Sigrún Sigurdardóttir (b. 1977) graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2001 and continued her studies in Art Theory at the University of Iceland from 2003 to 2004.
Her artistic focal point is the human body as both an object and phenomenon. Working in a wide variety of media and incorporating sound into her work, Sirra critically examines people’s social and structural surroundings in her art. Sirra was one of the founding members of Reykjavík’s Kling & Bang Gallery in 2003.
Rúrí (b.1951) was 23 when she came to the attention of the public in a “striking” way in the summer of 1974, when she attacked a gilded Mercedes Benz with a sledgehammer and displayed the result as a symbol of materialism and consumerism at an outdoor exhibition on Lækjartorg Square in central Reykjavík. Rúrí has become one of Iceland’s most prominent artists, and many of her works can be found in public spaces and public and private collections. Working in a wide range of media, Rúrí presents her consternation for threatened nature and human discord intertwined with and alongside her more conceptual interests in time, relativity, and ephemerality. Her grand entrance on the international stage was her participation in the 2003 Venice Biennale.
Olga Bergmann (b. 1967) graduated with an MFA from the California College of Art and Crafts in 1995 after she studied at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts and the Valand Art Academy in Gothenburg. Science, nature and the world of man form a trinity that Olga regularly combines in her art. She makes extensive use of objects trouvées, handling them with a variety of approaches. In the words of Dagur Gunnarsson, “Olga uses humour to seduce the spectator into a seamless world which at the same time is a satire on the direction that our own reality appears to be taking.”
Anna Hallin (b. 1965) was born in Sweden and now lives in Iceland. Her oeuvre includes sensitive drawings, paintings, sculptural objects and video animation—sometimes intricate, sometimes spare and refined—in which her main source of inspiration is the world of microorganisms and invertebrates. She is also inspired by the design of household equipment, such as plumbing and tubing, and the relationships between technology, nature, and the human body. Her interest in connections and systems extend to how individuals in urban settings are linked to one another. Anna received an MFA in ceramics from Gothenburg University and an MFA in studio arts from Mills College, Oakland, California.
Birgir Snæbjörn Birgisson (b. 1966) is an Icelandic artist, graduated in the beginning of the 90’s. Blondes have reoccurred as a theme is his work for over a decade. His works have been seen in group shows and solo exhibitions in Europe and North America in both galleries and museums, e.g. Stop for a moment – Painting as Narrative, group show, Projet4L, Istanbul Museum of Contemporary Art 2002; Pleasure Principle, group show, Kling & Bang, Reykjavik 2011 and Galleri Björkholmen, Stockholm 2011 and Blonde Miss World 1951-, solo exhibition, Reykjavík Art Museum 2007.
Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir (b. 1962) studied at the Icelandic Academy of Art and Crafts and Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Her work stems from her sense of political commitment, often addressing tension between the public and the private and investigating the potential that art holds as a mechanism for dialogue and social change. Seeking to critically challenge consumerism, globalization, the exploitation of the environment, and the needs of individuals to navigate an increasingly complex daily existence, Ósk’s shows—which include photography, video and installations—are often made in cooperation with the public, such as her series of works made with children and teenagers.
Born in 1978 in Odense, Denmark, Unndór Egill Jónsson lives and works in Reykjavík and Gothenburg. Unndór received B.A. in visual arts from Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2008 and M.F.A from Valand School of Fine Arts, Gothenburg Sweden in 2011. Jónsson has exhibited at home in Iceland and internationaly the past years.
Finnbogi Pétursson (b. 1959) studied at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts and the Jan van Eyck Akademie. His innovative and eccentric oeuvre hinges upon the conceptual treatment and integration of sound, space, and material. Since he began exhibiting in 1980, Finnbogi’s work often uses implements that produce electronic or acoustic sound—loudspeakers, wires, and instruments—to form sculptures themselves. Many of his installations bridge contemporary technology and elemental phenomena; his work also evokes experiences that cannot be attributed to visual or aural perception but rather a combination, or perhaps transcendence, of the senses. Finnbogi represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale in 2001 with his monumental sound installation Diabolus.
In his work, Bjarki Bragason often confronts issues regarding historical events and ideologies and how they effect individuals, often employing the combined narratives of fictional and living characters. His work looks at identity, language and time.
Born in 1979 in Reykjavík, Kolbeinn Hugi is the leading island dwelling artist of a generation that emerged in the wake of the cataclysmic great rift between art and artists in the bleak neo-capitalist Reykjavík of modern times. Kolbeinn has recently studied with Edgar Cayce in the informal setting of dream state trances established by the great sleeping medium after his death in 1945. There, he absorbed the acute sensibility to time and space associated with Cayce’s phantom sculptures as set up in his Astral Pavillion.
Kolbeinn’s work is simple work that doesn’t need explanation and aims for the heart, not for the head