The Icelandic Art Center is delighted to announce that Reykjavik-based artist Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir will represent Iceland at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (20 April – 24 November 2024). She will collaborate with American curator Dan Byers to realise her presentation, which will be an exhibition of new sculptural and installation works. The Icelandic Pavilion will be located in the Artigliere in the Arsenale for the second time in 2024.
Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir is renowned for her nuanced artistic practice, which explores
concepts of beauty, utility, and value. The artist often uses and misuses the systems we have developed to produce our material world. Her work draws inspiration from the affective possibilities of items such as computer buttons, plastic clips, hang tags, labels, and stickers presented at distorted scales and through often unnerving methods of display. The artist’s interventions into globalized systems of production, distribution, and commerce and the pleasure taken in the least heroic products of these systems, result in projects that are deadpan and surreal, playful and subversive. Working with Dan Byers, her presentation for the Icelandic Pavilion will respond to the Pavilion space and the Venice Biennale itself.
Dan Byers is a curator of contemporary art with a current focus on commissioning new work with living artists. Throughout his curatorial career, Byers has worked closely with artists to help conceptualize and produce new work for varying site and institutional contexts. In addition to his current post as the John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, he has held curatorial positions at the ICA/Boston, the Carnegie Museum of Art (where he was co-curator of the 2013 Carnegie International), and the Walker Art Center. Birgisdóttir and Byers share an interest in playing with the standard conventions of display and the exhibition format. They met through Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson and began conversations around Birgisdóttir’s Biennale presentation in 2022.
Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir, artist says ‘‘I look forward to taking my works to the Biennale and airing them out on the grand terrace of the art world. There will be a wall bound wall piece, among other scenarios. I’m excited to have Dan on my team, to make sense of it all.’
Dan Byers, curator, says “I’m delighted to work with Hildigunnur Birgisdóttir, The Venice Biennale is the perfect forum for Birgisdóttir’s aesthetically subversive and slyly political work. While still in its early stages, I’m excited by the way she is approaching the exhibition space, and the unexpected relationships she is creating between seemingly disparate sources and materials. I don’t think this pavilion will look or feel like any other.”
Iceland has exhibited at the Biennale Arte since the 1960s and has presented its own national pavilion since 1984. Previous presentations have recently included Sigurður Guðjónsson’s atmospheric audio-visual sculpture ‘Perceptual Motion’, Shoplifter’s neon, hypernatural hair installation in 2019 and Egill Sæbjörnsson’s trolls in 2017. The Icelandic Pavilion is commissioned by the Icelandic Art Center, which promotes and supports Icelandic contemporary art internationally through grants, collaborations and projects.