Chromo Sapiens | Shoplifter Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir
The Icelandic Pavilion invites Homo Sapiens to become Chromo Sapiens at the 58th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia!
Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter
Curated by Birta Guðjónsdóttir
Pavilion of Iceland at the Biennale Arte 2019
11 May – 24 November 2019
Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter has transformed a warehouse in Giudecca into a multi-sensory, cavernous environment with a cacophonous amount of her signature material, synthetic hair. Color, sound and irresistible textures guide visitors through three distinct chambers provoking an immersive experience of visual and auditory stimuli.
Entering Chromo Sapiens, you find yourself in Primal Opus, a dark passage of emanating volcanic earthy hues, activated by the sub terra sound of the Icelandic cult metal band HAM. The second chamber erupts into a shockingly bright undulation of colored neon hair tufts. Aptly named Astral Gloria, her soaring cathedral ceiling and sheer emersion of chromatic opulence generates a kind of euphoric kinetic synesthesia. Opium Natura, the final cave flutters effortlessly into a soft landing of shimmering whites and pale soothing pastels, a fluffy heavenly nest that cradles you into a sense of serenity and sublime gentle bliss.
Shoplifter’s contemporaries, the Icelandic band HAM play an essential role, with a commissioned opus heard and felt throughout the installation. Their dissonant compositions of murmurs and pulsating pithy frequencies signal a nebulous final surrender of senses into the very walls of the caves embrace. Chromo Sapiens marks Shoplifter and HAM’s first collaboration. They share a mutual inspiration rooted in the raw beauty and tectonic landscape of growing up in Iceland.
Shoplifter’s work sits in the realm between visual arts, performance and fashion, anchored in her fascination with pop culture and mass production, combined with a keen sense of humor and miraculous ability to transform synthetic materials into sculptural hypernatural environments.
Curator Birta Guðjónsdóttir has previously collaborated on three projects from Shoplifter’s series titled Nervescape and Nervescape II at Havremagasinet Cultural Center in Boden, Sweden (2013) Nervescape IV at Momentum 8 – Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art in Moss, Norway (2015) and Nervescape VII at the National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik (2017).
Birta Guðjónsdóttir notes: “Shoplifter has developed unique ways of working with textiles in space to critical acclaim and tremendous public appreciation. It is indeed exciting to see our continuing collaboration take us to Venice where she mounts her largest installation to date, a site-specific emotive and contemplative experience. One enters the pavilion as Homo Sapiens and exits as Chromo Sapiens.”
Chromo Sapiens Artist Limited Edition LP Publication will be available at the Icelandic Pavilion. The 12” vinyl record includes three commissioned soundscapes and an anthem by the band HAM, an interview between curator Alanna Heiss and Shoplifter, as well as essays by curator Birta Guðjónsdóttir, Jen DeNike, Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir, Timothy Morton, and Hilton Als.
Iceland has participated in the Biennale Arte since 1960. The Icelandic Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is commissioned by Reykjavik-based Icelandic Art Center (IAC) on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture.
Icelandic Pavilion at the La Biennale di Venezia 2019
Location: Spazio Punch, Giudecca, Venice
Exhibition dates: May 11th – November 24th 2019
Opening hours: 12 – 8pm Tuesday – Sunday
Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter (b. 1969) is one of Iceland’s leading contemporary artists, based in New York. Working with both synthetic and natural hair her sculptures, wall murals and site-specific installations explore themes of vanity, self-image, fashion, beauty and popular myth. Shoplifter’s most recent work includes solo exhibitions at Kiasma – the Finnish National Gallery (2019); the National Gallery of Iceland (2017); the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (2017); and the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art in Australia (2016). Notable projects and awards include; her large window installation created in collaboration with art collective assume vivid astro focus (avaf) for MoMA New York (2008), The Nordic Award in Textiles and The Prince Eugen Medal for artistic achievement from the King and Royal Crown of Sweden (2011). For further information please visit http://www.shoplifter.us/
Birta Guðjónsdóttir (b. 1977) is an Icelandic curator based in Reykjavik and Berlin. From 2014-2018 she held the position of Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Iceland. In 2015, she co-curated Momentum 8 – Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art in Norway and in 2013, she was a guest curator of the Nordic Art Triennial at Eskilstuna Art Museum in Sweden. Guðjónsdóttir has independently curated over twenty exhibitions in cities such as Basel, Berlin, Boden, Copenhagen, Oslo, Melbourne, New York and St. Petersburg, as well as across most art museums and art spaces in Iceland. Past platforms include: The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik (Director, 2009-2011); exhibition space 101 Projects, Reykjavik (Artistic Director, 2008-2009) and SAFN-Collection of Contemporary Art, Reykjavik (Curator, 2005-2008).
HAM (founded 1988) an Icelandic cult band have been a significant influence on younger generations of musicians, prominent in the Icelandic music scene until they quit in 1994. Resurfacing in 2001, they have been actively working together since 2006, releasing nine albums to date, with their most recent one in 2017. HAM are: S. Björn Blöndal-Bass, Sigurjón Kjartansson-Guitar/Voice, Arnar Geir Ómarsson-Drums/Percussion, Óttarr Proppé-Voice, Flosi Þorgeirsson-Guitars. For the soundscape of Chromo Sapiens, HAM worked with producer Skúli Sverrisson, a long-time collaborator of composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, a member of HAM.
About the Icelandic Art Center
Based in Reykjavik, the Icelandic Arts Center (IAC) is dedicated to promoting Icelandic visual arts internationally. Affiliated with Iceland’s Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the IAC strengthens networks between the visual arts scene in Iceland and the global cultural sphere. Through funding and logistical assistance, IAC assists Icelandic artists and arts professionals in producing projects abroad, and facilitates cooperation with public and private associations, organizations, and enterprises worldwide. The Icelandic Art Center (IAC) is Commissioner of the Icelandic Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia on behalf of the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.
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