Havremagasinet – Boden Art Center
June 6 – October 20, 2013
Curator: Gregory Volk. Assistant Curator: Birta Gudjonsdottir
1. Of, relating to, or being an element.
a. Fundamental or essential; basic.
b. Of or relating to fundamentals; elementary.
c. Constituting an integral part; inborn.
3. Of such character as to resemble a force of nature in power or effect: elemental
– The Free Online Dictionary
At the core of Elemental are not only select Icelandic artists, but Iceland altogether, with its special and indeed “elemental” natural forces, including volcanoes, glaciers, seismic activity, powerful rivers and waterfalls, geology, and the immense ocean. Encountering the Icelandic landscape is profound, humbling, and transformative, which Icelanders well know, but which many ardent visitors know as well. Elemental arises from such experiences in Iceland, and recognizes that many excellent Icelandic artists have found fascinating ways of making what is, in effect, a very elemental art. While this work may not be “about” Iceland, Iceland is in the work, and in the consciousness that produced the work: a homeland on the mind that greatly contributes to and energizes each artist’s deep inquiry.
Elemental also recognizes the impact Iceland has had on important international artists, who have been visiting, and at times residing in, the country for years. Roni Horn has been involved with Iceland for basically her whole career, including living in the country part time and exhibiting her work there, as has Olafur Eliasson, whose parents are Icelandic, but who was born and raised in Copenhagen. Roman Signer is especially attuned to the volcanic landscape and has made numerous of his signature temporary sculptures, or sculptures-as-events, far out in nature. Lawrence Weiner has also visited numerous times, and has exhibited in Reykjavik as well as up north in Akureyri. Karin Sander has also exhibited in Reykjavik and has travelled throughout the country. Joan Jonas’s involvement dates back to her Volcano Saga (1985-1989), filmed in Iceland and based in part on the famous 13th century Laxdaela Saga, while Swedish photographer Maria Friberg counts her experience studying for one year in Reykjavik at the Iceland Academy of the Arts as a formative influence. Ragna Róbertsdóttir will exhibit two large-scale wall works, one made from actual lava chips gathered at Iceland’s famous volcanoes, and the other from red earth.
Lawrence Weiner will also exhibit two wall works that engage the landscape, one involving “ICELAND SPAR” (a transparent variety of calcite) and the other falling “MAGMA” (molten rock that becomes lava in volcanic eruptions, and a prime characteristic of Iceland). Hrafnhildur Arnardottir exhibits a vivid, looming sculpture made of multicolored artificial hair that also evokes caves, glaciers, fairy tale lairs where magical creatures live, cliff walls, and volcanic eruptions. Noted Icelandic singer, musician, and visual artist Kría Brekkan will improvise a live sound piece and performance in response to this work. Roman Signer’s three temporary sculptures/actions, recorded on video, occur at remote sites in Iceland. He inserts a camera into a bubbling hot spring and, in Snæfellsnes, takes a kayak trip through lava fields, not on a river but on an empty dirt road. At a rainy, windswept heath he ties two open umbrellas together and releases them to the elements. Catching the wind, the umbrellas rise up, cavort in the air, dance, tumble and bound across the landscape, and ultimately collapse. The works in the exhibition are diverse, including sculptures, photographs, conceptual paintings, videos, text-based pieces, textiles, sound, and performance. All are elemental, in the multiple meanings of the word; they are involved with essences as well as forces of nature. Iceland, that remote, volcanic island nation in the North Atlantic, is a powerful and presiding influence, both on the Icelandic artists and those from elsewhere who have experienced and reveled in the country’s magnetic allure.
Artists include: Birgir Andrésson (IS), Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir (IS), Hildur Bjarnadóttir (IS), Margrét Blöndal (IS), Kría Brekkan (IS), Olafur Eliasson (DK/DE), Maria Friberg (SE), Kristján Gudmundsson (IS), Roni Horn (U.S.), Joan Jonas (U.S.), Tumi Magnússon (IS), Ragna Róbertsdóttir (IS), Karin Sander (DE), Roman Signer (CH), Ívar Valgardsson (IS), Lawrence Weiner (U.S.)
Havremagasinet is the largest Art Museum in the North of Sweden. The museum is housed on 6 floors, in a 3.600m2 historic building. The exhibitions are of world class and include internationally known artists as well as local ones, in historic exhibitions on the top floor. Built in 1910, Havremagasinet previously served as a storage place for horse feed, oats, and it is preserved as a cultural heritage monument. With an ingenious transport system and storage pockets you could move oats between the house’s five floors, with the oats being stored safely.
Gregory Volk is an art critic and freelance curator based in New York. He writes regularly for Art in America and his articles and reviews have appeared in many other publications, including Parkett and Sculpture. Among his recent contributions to exhibition catalogues are essays on Sanford Biggers (Brooklyn Museum, 2011) and Ayse Erkmen (Turkish Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2011). His essay on Vito Acconci is featured in Vito Acconci: Diary of a Body, 1969-1973, published by Charta in 2007, and his essay on Andy Warhol’s late work appears in Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, published in 2009 by the Milwaukee Art Museum and Prestel. Gregory Volk has curated numerous exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, including Outdoor Excursions (Burlington City Arts, Burlington, Vermont, 2011), Three Parts Whole (i8 Gallery, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2011), and Agitation and Repose (Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, 2007, curated together with Sabine Russ). Volk is also an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts.
Birta Gudjonsdottir is an independent curator and artist living in Berlin and Reykjavik. She has held positions as director of The Living Art Museum, as director of 101 Projects Foundation, and as curator at SAFN, Private Art Collection, all in Reykjavik. Previously she worked as assistant curator at MuHKA; Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp. Birta has independently curated numerous exhibitions in museums and art spaces in Copenhagen, Denmark, Oslo, Norway, Melbourne, Australia, New York, USA, St. Petersburg, Russia and most art spaces and art museums in Iceland. In 2010-2011, she participated in the Curatorial Intensive program of ICI in New York and The Cornwall Workshop, Tate Museum St. Ives. She has been on advisory boards of the Icelandic Art Center and The Icelandic Academy of the Arts and is a founding board member of Sequences Art Festival in Reykjavik.
For further information, interviews and images, please contact:
tel. +354 865 8719
tel: +1 347 742 5908
The exhibition runs through October 20
Havremagasinet – Boden Art Center
S-961 36 Boden, Sweden