One of Iceland’s most internationally prominent artists of today, Rúrí (b. 1951) works in a wide variety of media, from sculptures, installations, and environmental art to multimedia and performance. Her piece in the 50th Venice Biennale, Archive—Endangered Waters, was an interactive multimedia installation comprised of 52 photographs of waterfalls threatened by increasing dam building. Shot from diverse locations in the Icelandic highlands, developed on transparent film, and held between two panes of transparent glass, the photographs were encased in a large steel frame with moving slots that scientifically “archived” Iceland’s waterfalls. As visitors to the installation would walk throughout the closed pavilion, their movements would directly affect those of the photographs in the steel frame, and as each photo slid into place the recorded sound of that waterfall could be heard. As in many of her works, Rúrí highlights in this piece not only the beauty of the natural environment and the human relationship to and presence within it, but also engages viewers in a literally physical relationship with her art as well, asking them to reflect on how their own actions and movements affect the natural world. Rúrí’s work often engages contemporary events such as war and conflict in addition to the destruction of the environment—and whether explicitly or subtly, with force or elegance, commands reflection on individual connectedness with a collective societal consciousness.
Commissioner and curator: Laufey Helgadóttir
Artist’s assistants: Þór Vigfússon and Pétur Örn Friðriksson
Committee: Hrafnhildur Schram, Olafur Kvaran