Egill Sæbjörnsson | Prague, Czech Republic
Poetry Passage#7: Egill Sæbjörnsson, The Stairs
National Gallery of Prague, Trade Fair Palace, Dukelských hrdinů 47, Prague 7
October 24th, 2018 – February 3rd, 2019
THE STAIRS is Icelandic artist, Egill Sæbjörnsson’s poetry in motion. In this site-specific work, self-generative video turns the Poetry Passage staircase into a playground of chance and improvisation. As such, Sæbjörnsson’s contemplative piece becomes a reflection upon a difference and repetition that govern the routines of our lives. Never at the same pace, nor at the controlled rhythm, the balls come now and then, like the particles in space or the rain drops on the Autumn day…
Egill Sæbjörnsson (b. 1973 in Reykjavik, Iceland) lives and works in Berlin. He graduated from the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (now the Icelandic Academy of the Arts) in 1997 and studied at the University of Paris, St.Denis, from 1995 to 1996. Sæbjörnsson is interested in the relationship between the mental reality and the physical reality; in the mere connection between what we think and what is happening in the world around us. For Sæbjörnsson, “art is an independent species evolving together with humans; art is like the dog that evolved from wolves when wolves started to walk with humans”. “We are not in control of art”, the artist states, “art has simultaneously shaped us”. Using a performative and highly theatrical approach, Sæbjörnsson celebrates this playful creative force, and further develops the relationship between humans and the environment. For his most recent exhibition extravaganza cum political satire – the Icelandic Pavilion of the recent Venice Art Biennale (2017) – the artist handed over the reins to two trolls, Ugh and Boogar, fictional entities who have been a part of his life for a decade.
At the forefront of experimentation, Sæbjörnsson combines music, sculpture, video projection and animations, as well as his own performance – whether as a mime artist, speaker, actor, musician, or singer – to create fictional spatial narratives. Theatrical, poetic and playful, ordinary dormant objects come alive in Sæbjörnsson’s works – be they plastic buckets, a wall, rough stones or handbags – drawing the viewer into a wondrous world where the real and the imagined collide.
Sæbjörnsson works and performances have been shown at The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Kölnischer Kunstverein, The Baryshnikov Art Center in New York, Oi Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, PS1 MoMA, Kiasma in Helsinki and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney. Gallery shows include: i8 Gallery Reykjavik, Hopstreet Gallery Brussels, Isabella Bortolozzi Gallery Berlin and Johann König Gallery Berlin. Sæbjörnsson was nominated for the Carnegie Art Awards in 2010 and his works can be found in several private collections and museums. Recent public works include Steinkugel, a permanent public art work for the Robert Koch Institute; and Berlin and Cascade, an extended light installation for the Kunstmuseum Ahlen. In 2011 he collaborated with Marcia Moraes and Robert Wilson on a remake of Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach. Sæbjörnsson has also published three books in conjunction with his work and released five albums.
Curated by Adam Budak
About the artist
Born 1973 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Lives in Berlin, DE. Egill Sæbjörnsson graduated from the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (now the Icelandic Academy of the Arts) in 1997 and studied at the University of Paris, St.Denis, from 1995 to 1996.
Sæbjörnsson is interested in the connection between the mental reality and the physical reality; in the mere connection between what we think and what is happening in the world around us. One can say that, in his work, this is indicated by the projected videos onto objects. The videos can be perceived as the thoughts or the mental reality and the objects as the physical reality or vice versa. We constantly project our thoughts onto the world, just like we record the world through our senses. Humor and perhaps a sense of magic or other elements, such as music, which acquire an openness to interpretation on different levels is somewhat how Sæbjörnsson approaches his work.
With an educational background in drawing and painting, his approach is somehow a technological continuation of painting. For Sæbjörnsson, all artworks have always been alive and have co-created us as much as we created them. In other words; “art is an independent species evolving together with humans”. Art is like the dog that evolved from wolves when wolves started to walk with humans. We are not in control of art, art has simultaneously shaped us. Using a playful approach, Sæbjörnsson celebrates this playful creative force, the relationship between humans and the environment.
The interrelation between all these components leads to an experimental manner in which Sæbjörnsson’s arrangements cannot be described as mere “installations”. They are at once performance sets, sculptural accumulations, and three-dimensional drawings. He uses all these methods to create a distinct visual language often laced with plays on perception. As a matter of fact, there must be a creative power in front of art, in front of science, and even religion.