For the Icelandic Pavilion’s exhibition at the 59 International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Reykjavík based contemporary artist Sigurður Guðjónsson presents multisensory sculpture Perpetual Motion. The artwork offers a poetic exploration of materiality at edge of the boundaries of perception, powerfully combining moving images and sound to activate the space and create an entrancing, meditative experience for visitors. The Icelandic Pavilion is curated by Mónica Bello and is located in the Arsenale, for the first time this year.
Sigurður Guðjónsson is best known for his striking time-based media works that often focus on man-made machinery and technical relics, investigating their enigmatic, hidden elements just beyond our field of vision. The artist experiments with camera lenses, perspective, light, and motion, amplifying and observing these forms and the transformations that take place as they interact with their environment. Perpetual Motion is staged as a split screen installation, with a six-metre-high vertical screen connected to a large-scale floor projection, that occupies most of the exhibition space. The screens depict the constant drift of metal dust, amplified and magnified through the artist’s camera lens. Visitors can immerse themselves in the movement of the abstract material, as it warps and distorts, suggesting new shapes and imagery such as the surface of an outermost planet.
The interplay of sound and vision features throughout Guðjónsson’s oeuvre. The artist uses intricate soundscapes as the foundation of his works, drawing out the acoustic properties of his visual investigations to create a stronger link to the subject matter. Perpetual Motion includes a visceral soundtrack developed by Guðjónsson and Icelandic musician Valgeir Sigurðsson, which responds to the granulated texture of the matter in the moving images using stacked electromagnetic sounds that have been manipulated via granular synthesis. The soundscape fills the Pavilion and envelops visitors as they enter the artwork, forging a deeper connection with the frequencies of the metal dust as it moves and pulsates across the screens’ surface.
This project has been realised in collaboration with Mónica Bello, the Curator of the Icelandic Pavilion. Bello holds the position of Curator and Head of Arts at the CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, fostering dialogues between artists, particle physicists and engineers at one of the world’s leading laboratories. Bello’s curatorial work focuses on the narratives in today’s techno-scientific culture and how artists instigate new enquiries around emergent phenomena.