Icelandic Art Center
Icelandic Art Center
Finnbogi Pétursson (2001)

Finnbogi Pétursson (b. 1959) , who represented the country at the Biennale in 2001, created a monumental sound installation, Diabolus, in Iceland’s pavilion that became itself a musical instrument through which visitors would walk. Like much of his work, Diabolus incorporated sound, Pétursson’s focal medium, with sculpture and architecture; since he began exhibiting in 1980, his work often uses the implements that produce electronic or acoustic sound—loudspeakers, wires, and instruments—to form sculptures themselves. As for Diabolus, Pétursson bisected the wooden Alvar Aalto pavilion with a 16-meter-long tunnel, ending in an organ pipe of his own creation, through which guests would move through and experience this subtle work of art both publicly and privately. From a speaker under the organ pipe resonated a tone at the frequency of 61.8hz, and an air pump blowing through the same pipe produced another tone at 44.7hz. Together the two tones form an interference wave—in this case, the result of two sound waves of a similar frequency that when combined form a new, single wave—at the frequency of 17hz, a dark-sounding tone known as the diabolus. Actually banned by the church in medieval times for its supposed devilish and disordering qualities, Pétursson’s creation of the diabolus mixed contemporary electronics with the centuries-old organ pipe to essentially uncensor a sound once forbidden in the Catholic Church, whose seat, of course, is in Venice itself.

Commissioner: Hrafnhildur Schram
Artist’s assistants: Guðný Magnúsdóttir, Daniel Magnússon