Egill, Ūgh and Bõögâr. Photo: Achilleas Gatsopoulos .
Courtesy and copyright the artist and i8 Gallery
Press release April 2017
The Icelandic Art Center is pleased to announce that Ūgh and Bõögâr, the two trolls turned artists who earlier this year took over the creation of the Icelandic Pavilion from artist Egill Sæbjörnsson, have arrived in Venice for the installation of Out of Controll in Venice (13 May – 26 November 2017), Iceland’s contribution to the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The pavilion is curated by Stefanie Böttcher, Director of Kunsthalle Mainz.
The trolls travelled to Venice by foot on Easter Sunday morning from Berlin, where they have been living and working in Sæbjörnsson’s studio in Berlin for the past year. Being shapeshifters, with the ability to instantaneously turn extraordinarily large, their journey to Venice only required 5 steps, taking them approximately 5 seconds.
Since their arrival, Ūgh and Bõögâr have been exploring the city and getting to know its customs, including drinking over 100,000 cups of espresso. As (wo)man-eaters, they have been feasting on locals and tourists, mostly along the waterfront of Piazza San Marco, enjoying the views across the Grand Canal. With their recently discovered love for art, they have also been visiting the city’s many artistic attractions, including Damien Hirst’s exhibition “Treasure of the Wreck from the Unbelievable” at Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi. Photos of their Venice adventures can be found here.
Little is known about what Ūgh and Bõögâr are presenting for the Icelandic Pavilion. However, they have been highly creative since they moved into Sæbjörnsson’s studio last year and their many creative pursuits – from music and perfume making to fashion and pottery – may offer some clues as to what to expect for Biennale Arte 2017:
Ūgh and Bõögâr had never heard music before they came to live with Sæbjörnsson, but now they love everything from Black Sabbath to children’s music. Sæbjörnsson is a musician as well as an artist, so they have been working with him on a 13-track album, playing their own troll instrument, a huge wooden stick that they hit on the ground. It makes for a good bass line. They can occasionally also be heard howling as on this track which is released today.
When Ūgh and Bõögâr met renowned Berlin-based perfumer Geza Schön – a friend of Sæbjörnsson’s and the nose behind lines such as Escentric Molecules and Paper Passion – they became enthralled by the idea of creating a perfume that would capture the essence of being a troll and complement their repugnant smell. Perfumes are expensive to make – especially if like Ūgh and Bõögâr you want to use specialist ingredients such as nuclear waste and whale puke – so together with Sæbjörnsson and Schön they have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the endeavour. As they present too much of a health and safety risk to humans, they can’t get a job to make the money needed themselves. And the Icelandic Art Center, Sæbjörnsson and his gallery, i8, have already spent all they have on the trolls.
Ūgh and Bõögâr love to dress up and walk down the street in human size.They like the attention that comes with it, with people staring at them puzzled, admiring their outfits while wondering about the large noses. Their unique style has even come to the attention of famous fashion houses and designers, including Eygló, winner of “Fashion Design of the Year” at the Reykjavík Grapevine Design Award 2016. Inspired by their look, she has decided to create a new collection that reflects the trolls’ aesthetics. Ūgh and Bõögâr are so excited about this that they have asked her to put together a fashion show for the opening party of the Icelandic Pavilion.
Ūgh and Bõögâr have been making all kinds of art in Sæbjörnsson’s studio. They particularly like making sculptures. Given their very large size, one would think that they would be making very large sculptures. For a while they did, exhibiting their first works with i8 gallery on a lava field outside of Reykjavík as the pieces wouldn’t fit into the gallery. As their artistic practice has evolved, however, their creations have become smaller and smaller – perhaps because they have realised that to gain critical acclaim they have to make things that people can actually take in without having to get an aerial view from a helicopter or plane. Most recently they have been trying their hands (which they shrink to human size) at pottery, creating a set of cups with saucers in homage to coffee which they love to drink. For the Icelandic Pavilion they have said that they will return to large scale work.
Speaking about her relationship with the trolls, Stefanie Böttcher, Director of Kunsthalle Mainz and curator of the Icelandic Pavilion, said:
“I first met Ūgh and Bõögâr back in January, several months after they first moved into Sæbjörnsson’s studio. It was a huge surprise when the two 36-metre tall giants appeared in the inner courtyard of the Berlin high-rise building! They’re two seemingly tame monsters who remain completely unpredictable, who at any point could break out from behind their temporary friendly masks – like two exploding Icelandic volcanoes. They will always be two primeval forces of nature, but obviously I’ve also come to trust them over time and we’ve become pretty close. They would only eat me in an extreme emergency because they respect me to a certain extent.”
“But that doesn’t mean we don’t regularly cross swords: there’s a lot they don’t understand, but in order to get by in our world they have to accept certain boundaries and principles. And their principle of total chaos keeps on clashing with our system of structured order. But quite apart from that, Ūgh and Bõögâr are literally overwhelming. There are no bounds to their thoughts and ideas. Even Sæbjörnsson, who believes that everything is connected, that art pervades life (and vice versa) and holds humanity together, that all boundaries are imaginary, even he is repeatedly surprised by the trolls’ tricks, brainwaves, and talents.”
Björg Stefánsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Art Center, added: “In recent years, the Icelandic Pavilion has frequently been a venue for dissolving social constructs – whether they be ideologies, nationalist sentiments or the myth of the artist. This tradition has been taken to a whole new level with Out of Controll in Venice where all social constructs are annihilated as we let the unchecked creative powers of Ūgh and Bõögâr take over.”
“As the installation of Ūgh and Bõögâr’s work is about to begin, we hope that they will show the team from the Icelandic Art Center the same respect as they have so far shown their collaborators Egill Sæbjörnsson and Stefanie Böttcher and not eat anybody. What their culinary habits are outside of Spazio Punch on Giudecca, we unfortunately have no influence or control over.”
Read about Egill Sæbjörnsson’s encounter with Ūgh and Bõögâr in this extract from the book When Egill met the Trolls and took them to Venice [PDF]
Follow the trolls’ adventure in Venice ahead of opening of Biennale Arte 2017 on Instagram @icelandicpavilion #outofcontroll and look out for the the ‘Trolls Twitter Takeover’ @Icelandicartcen #outofcontroll
Join the conversation #icelandicpavilion2017 #ughandboogar #egillsaebjornsson
Out of Controll in Venice
Pavilion of Iceland at Biennale Arte 2017
Spazio Punch, Giudecca
Vaporetto stop: Palanca
For further press information and images, please contact:
Helena Zedig or Cecilia Vilela at Pickles PR
E: email@example.com | Tel: +44 (0) 7803 596 587
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1 February 2017
OUT OF CONTROLL IN VENICE: PAVILION OF ICELAND
TO BE CREATED BY TWO TROLLS
Follow the trolls on Instagram:
#outofcontroll #ughandboogar #egillsaebjornsson
Today, Wednesday 1 February 2017, the Icelandic Art Center announces that Egill Sæbjörnsson, the artist selected to represent Iceland at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (13 May – 26 November 2017), has handed over the creation of the Icelandic Pavilion 2017 to Ūgh and Bõögâr, two Icelandic trolls turned artists. Entitled Out of Controll in Venice, Ūgh and Bõögâr’s project will be curated by Stefanie Böttcher, Director of Kunsthalle Mainz.
Who has control? Who is guiding our actions, our knowledge, our thoughts, even our powers of imagination? Who is exploiting whom or what? These are questions that Egill Sæbjörnsson consistently grapples with in his work. In phantasmagorical settings, he fills dormant objects with life by overlaying them with animations, projections of light and sounds, allowing their voices to be heard and their characters to be experienced. When an eraser starts flying, stones begin singing or handbags perform a choreographed piece, established relationships and hierarchies are challenged and inverted.
While Ūgh and Bõögâr may appear to belong to an archaic world of fantasy, the more time we spend with them in Out of Controll in Venice, the more concrete this seemingly other world becomes. For Sæbjörnsson the trolls are already part of his reality: having encountered Ūgh and Bõögâr in Iceland in 2008, wherever Sæbjörnsson goes, they follow. They have even followed in his artistic footsteps, sharing his studio space in Berlin, creating works and presenting exhibitions. The full story of the artist’s encounter with Ūgh and Bõögâr can be found UghandBoogar. (pdf)
Out of Controll in Venice will extend beyond the Pavilion of Iceland, both in time and space. From now until the opening of the Biennale Arte 2017 and beyond, Ūgh and Bõögâr will be infiltrating our lives – no longer just the artist’s, but bit by bit, more and more people will be drawn into their world, encountering everything from the trolls’ thoughts and artistic output, to their music and culinary habits (they enjoy eating humans). The culmination of this encounter – a large-scale, immersive and participatory presentation for the Biennale Arte 2017 – will share Iceland’s joyous and terrifying co-existence with the trolls to the wider world, revealing how a simple exchange can evolve into deeper understanding, transforming our perspectives, our ideas of truth and reality, and our relationship with the world.
Stefanie Böttcher, curator of the Icelandic Pavilion 2017 and Director of Kunsthalle Mainz, said: “Out of Controll in Venice is Egill Sæbjörnsson’s most ambitious work yet. Without noticing, we outgrow the role of passive observer and gradually grow into the artwork. Rather than following the activities of the trolls, it is we who are being followed. Rather than seeking an encounter with this world situated between imagination and reality, we are being sucked into it.”
Björg Stefánsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Art Center, said: “In recent years, the Icelandic Pavilion has frequently been a venue for dissolving social constructs – whether they be ideologies, nationalist sentiments or the myth of the artist. This tradition continues with Out of Controll in Venice, where the boundary between the real and the imagined completely dissolves as we are drawn into the enthralling and ferocious realm of two trolls.”
Follow the trolls Ūgh and Bõögâr on Instagram
Join the conversation #outofcontroll #ughandboogar #egillsaebjornsson #icelandicpavilion2017 #BiennaleArte2017
Exhibition details :
Out of Controll in Venice
Pavilion of Iceland at Biennale Arte 2017
Location: Spazio Punch, Giudecca
Running dates: 13 May – 26 November 2017
For further press information, images and interview requests, please contact:
Tel: +44 (0) 7803 596 587
Notes to Editors
Egill Sæbjörnsson (b.1973) lives and works in Berlin and Reykjavik. At the forefront of experimentation, he combines music, sculpture, video projection and animations, as well as his own performance – whether as a mime artist, speaker, actor, musician, or singer – to create fictional spatial narratives. Theatrical, poetic and playful, ordinary dormant objects come alive in Sæbjörnsson’s works – be they plastic buckets, a wall, rough stones or handbags – drawing the viewer into a wondrous world where the real and the imagined collide.
Sæbjörnsson works and performances have been shown at The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Kölnischer Kunstverein, The Baryshnikov Art Center in New York, Oi Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, PS1 MoMA, Kiasma in Helsinki and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney. Gallery shows include: i8 Gallery Reykjavik, Hopstreet Gallery Brussels, Isabella Bortolozzi Gallery Berlin and Johann König Gallery Berlin. Sæbjörnsson was nominated for the Carnegie Art Awards in 2010 and his works can be found in several private collections and museums. Recent public works include Steinkugel, a permanent public art work for the Robert Koch Institute; and Berlin and Cascade, an extended light installation for the Kunstmuseum Ahlen. In 2011 he collaborated with Marcia Moraes and Robert Wilson on a remake of Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach. Sæbjörnsson has also published three books in conjunction with his work and released five albums. www.egills.de
Egill Sæbjörnsson is represented by i8 Gallery. www.i8.is
Ūgh and Bõögâr are Icelandic trolls. They are 36 meters tall and love to eat people, hide behind buildings and – being shapeshifters – transform themselves into new things. They are ferocious
beings, but is that all there is to them? Or do they have a hidden, softer side? Meeting Egill Sæbjörnsson some years ago, Ūgh and Bõögâr started to notice that humans know things trolls don’t know. It made them curious and they started to learn from him, developing a passion for art and traveling. Ūgh and Bõögâr are forces, entities, phenomenons of nature. Nobody know where they come from, how old they are or how they entered Sæbjörnsson’s life. Now they have entered yours, since you have read about them.
Stefanie Böttcher (b. 1978) is an art historian and curator. Since 2015, she has been the director of Kunsthalle Mainz, where she curated On the Shoulders of Giants and Detail is all, as well as a solo exhibition with Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué. She worked as artistic director of the Künstlerhaus from 2007 until 2013, where she gave young international artists such as Lara Almarcegui, Ahmet Öğüt, Pilvi Takala and Kateřina Šedá their first solo shows in Germany. In addition, she has organised extensive survey exhibitions of works by more seasoned practitioners such as Tim Etchells and Robert Kinmont. In 2013, the Goethe-Institut awarded her a curatorial research stipend for Serbia, and the same year she curated the group exhibitions 7 Ways to Overcome the Closed Circuit and 8 Ways to Overcome Space and Time, in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade (MoCAB). Böttcher has also published broadly on individual artists and art as a site for utopia.
The Icelandic Arts Center (IAC)
Based in Reykjavik, the Icelandic Arts Center (IAC) is dedicated to promoting Icelandic visual arts internationally. Affiliated with Iceland’s Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the IAC strengthens networks between the visual arts scene in Iceland and the global cultural sphere. Through funding and logistical assistance IAC helps Icelandic artists and arts professionals in producing projects abroad, and facilitates cooperation with public and private associations, organisations, and enterprises worldwide. The Icelandic Art Center (IAC) is Commissioner of the Icelandic Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia on behalf of the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. www.icelandicartcenter.is
Press release June 2016
Egill Sæbjörnsson to represent Iceland at the 57th Venice Biennale.
The Icelandic Art Center is proud to announce that the artist Egill Sæbjörnsson has been selected to represent Iceland at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. The pavilion will be curated by Stefanie Böttcher, director of Kunsthalle Mainz.
Egill Sæbjörnsson is a visual artist, performer, musician and composer. His works often consist of combinations of real objects, the illusion and magic of projected video and sound. New technologies, performance and music play an integral role in his pieces as well. Egill is witty, ingenious and deep, all in one. He makes us confused and surprised and leads us to pose ontological questions, doing so in an enjoyable way. Sæbjörnsson’s works are of an experiential nature, requiring neither instructions nor education in order to be understood.
According to the jury: “The inventiveness and humor of Egill Sæbjörnsson’s project, as well as his ability to bring together divergent worlds through the use of different media and platforms to create an immersive environment where the real and concrete intersects with the imagined and the fantastic, will engage the audience of the Venice Biennale in 2017 and beyond with its layered sensorial universe and relevant reflections on our contemporary world.”
Stefanie Böttcher: “I feel extremely honored by the choice of the jury. It is a immense challenge to curate the Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, as it is one of the most important art exhibitions worldwide. I am very much looking forward to the project and I am convinced that the visitors will be totally captivated by experiencing Egill Sæbjörnsson’s work. Once they are in, they will become part of it .”
Egill Sæbjörnsson (b.1973) lives and works in Berlin and Reykjavik. Sæbjörnsson’s works and performances have been shown at: The Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Kölnischer Kunstverein, The Baryshnikov Art Center in New York, Oi Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, PS1 MoMA, Kiasma Helsinki, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney.
Gallery shows include: i8 Gallery Reykjavik, Hopstreet Gallery Brussels, Isabella Bortolozzi Gallery Berlin and Johann König Gallery Berlin.
Egill was nominated for the Carnegie Art Awards in 2010 and his works are in found in several private collections and museums. Recent public works are: Steinkugel, a permanent public art work for the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin and Cascade, an extended light installation for the Kunstmuseum Ahlen. In 2011 he collaborated with Marcia Moraes and Robert Wilson on a remake of Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach. Egill has furthermore published three books with his work and released five albums with his music
Egill Sæbjörnsson is represented by i8 Gallery Reykjavik and Hopstreet Gallery Brussels.
Stefanie Böttcher (b.1978) is an art historian and curator. Since June 2015 she is the Artistic Director of the Kunsthalle Mainz where she curated the exhibitions “On the Shoulders of Giants” and “Detail is all”. In 2014, Böttcher worked as a freelance author and curator in Germany and abroad, publishing essays on art as a site for utopia and on individual artists. At the Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina (MoCAV) she curated “Beauty Lies Inside Desire” with Halil Altındere, Nathalie Djurberg, Klara Lidén and Agnieszka Polska. Previously she was the Artistic Director of Künstlerhaus Bremen for seven years. She curated the exhibition “8 Ways to overcome Time and Space” (with Una Popović) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade and the duo show “Transit” including the artists Korpys/Löffler and Christian Haake at manzara Istanbul. Böttcher has extensive experience in creating large-scale exhibitions and in accompanying artistic processes in concept and realization. She realized notable solo exhibitions with young international artists like Lara Almarcegui, Sofia Hultén, Ahmet Öğüt or Kateřina Šedá, and she has as well worked with artists such as Tim Etchells, Robert Kinmont and Icelandic artists, Hreinn Friðfinnsson and Ragnar Kjartansson.
Icelandic Art Center
The Icelandic Art Center is the commissioning body of the Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Members of the selection committee were: Björg Stefánsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Art Center; Hlynur Hallsson, Director of Akureyri Art Museum and Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir, Artist. Visiting members in the committee were: Aðalheiður Guðmundsdóttir, Philosopher and Program Director of Art Theory, Department of Fine Art, Iceland Academy of the Arts and Libia Castro, Artist.
For further information contact Björg Stefánsdóttir director of the Icelandic Art Center at email@example.com / +354 562 7262
Egill Sæbjörnsson valinn fulltrúi Íslands á Feneyjatvíæringinn 2017
Það er Kynningarmiðstöð íslenskrar myndlistar mikill heiður að tilkynna að Egill Sæbjörnsson hefur verið valinn fulltrúi Íslands á 57. Feneyjartvíæringnum árið 2017. Sýning hans verður unnin í samstarfi við Stefanie Böttcher sýningarstjóra.
Egill Sæbjörnsson er myndlistamaður, gjörningalistamaður, tónlistamaður og tónskáld. Verk hans samanstanda oftar en ekki af samblöndu raunverulegra hluta sem sveipaðir eru tálsýn og töfrum í gegnum vídeóvörpun og hljóð. Nýmiðlar, gjörningar og tónlistarflutningur spilar stórt hlutverk í verkum hans. Egill beitir kímni sinni, klókindum og dýpt, öllu á sama tíma. Hann ruglar fólk í ríminu og kemur á óvart á meðan hann leiðir okkur á ánægjulegan hátt að tilvistarlegum spurningum. Verk Egils eru tilraunakennd og þarfnast hvorki leiðbeininga né kunnáttu til skilnings og upplifunar.
Fagráðið er stóð að valinu þessu sinni segir: ,,Uppátækjasemin og skopskynið sem einkennir verkefni Egils, auk færni hans í að draga saman aðskilda heima með notkun mismunandi miðla til þess að skapa heilsteypt heildarumhverfi þar sem raunveruleikinn skarast á við hið ímyndaða mun fanga athygli áhorfenda á Feneyjartvíæringnum árið 2017, með sínum marglaga heimi sem endurspeglar okkar samtíma og á erindi við heiminn allan.”
Stefanie Böttcher: ,,Ég er mjög heiðruð af vali dómnefndar. Það er heljarinnar áskorun að sýningarstýra íslenska skálanum á Feneyjartvíæringnum sem er ein helsta listasýning í heimi. Ég hlakka afskaplega mikið til verkefnisins og ég er sannfærð um að gestir sýningarinnar verði algjörlega hugfangnir af framlagi Egils Sæbjörnssonar. Um leið og þeir stíga fæti inn í verkið, verða þeir hluti af því.”
Egill Sæbjörnsson (f.1973) býr og starfar í Berlín og Reykjavík. Verk hans og gjörningar hafa verið sýnd í Hamburger Bahnhof – safni fyrir samtímalist í Berlín; Frankfurter Kunstverein; Kölnischer Kunstverein; The Baryshnikov Art Center í New York; Oi Futuro í Rio de Janeiro; PS1 MoMA; Kiasma í Helsinki; Nýlistasafni Ástralíu í Sydney
Meðal gallerísýninga hans má nefna: i8 gallerí Reykjavík; Hopstreet Gallery, Brussel; Isabella Bortolozzi Gallery, Berlín og Johann König Gallery, Berlín.
Egill var tilnefndur til Carnegie listverðlaunanna árið 2010 og verk hans má finna í þónokkrum einkasöfnum. Tvö nýleg verk eftir hann eru: Steinkugel, varanlegt listaverk í opinberu rými fyrir Robert Koch Institute í Berlín og Cascade, ljósainnsetning fyrir Kunstmuseum Ahlen. Árið 2011 vann hann ásamt Marcia Moraes og Robert Wilson að endurgerð á verki Wilson sem ber titilinn Einstein on the Beach. Egill hefur auk þess gefið út þrjár bækur með verkum sínum og gefið út fimm plötur með tónlist sinni. Egill vinnur með galleríunum i8 í Reykjavik og Hopstreet Gallery í Brussel.
Stefanie Böttcher (f.1978) er listfræðingur og sýningarstjóri. Frá 2015 hefur hún verið listrænn stjórnandi Kunsthalle Mainz þar sem hún stýrði sýningunum “On the Shoulders of Giants” og “Detail is all”. Árið 2014, vann Böttcher sem sjálfstætt starfandi rithöfundur og sýningarstjóri í Þýskalandi sem og annars staðar, og birti rit um list sem stað sem ekki væri til og um ýms listamenn. Í nýlistasafni Vojvodina (MoCAV) sýningarstýrði hún “Beauty Lies Inside Desire” með Halil Altındere, Nathalie Djurberg, Klara Lidén og Agnieszka Polska. Áður var hún listrænn stjórnandi Künstlerhaus Bremen í sjö ár. Hún sýningarstýrði sýningunni “8 Ways to overcome Time and Space” (með Una Popović) í samtímalistasafni Belgrad og sýningunni “Transit” eftir listamennina Korpys/Löffler og Christian Haake í Istanbul. Böttcher býr yfir umfangsmikilli reynslu í að skapa yfirgripsmiklar sýningar og er vön í að fylgja listferli frá hugmynd til raunveruleika. Hún framkvæmdi einkasýningar með ungum alþjóðlegum listamönnum á borð við Lara Almarcegui, Sofia Hultén, Ahmet Öğüt og Kateřina Šedá, auk þess sem hún hefur unnið með listamönnum á borð við Tim Etchells, Robert Kinmont og íslensku listamönnunum Hreini Friðfinnssyni and Ragnari Kjartanssyni.
Kynningarmiðstöð íslenskrar myndlistar
Kynningarmiðstöð íslenskrar myndlistar er umsjónaraðili íslenska skálans á Feneyjartvíæringnum. Val á fulltrúa Íslands á Feneyjartvíæringnum árið 2017 var í höndum fagráðs sem samanstóð af Björgu Stefánsdóttur framkvæmdastjóra KÍM, Hlyni Hallssyni safnstjóra Listasafnsins á Akureyri og Sirru Sigrúnu Sigurðardóttur listamanni. Gestir fagráðsins að þessu sinni voru Aðalheiður Guðmundsdóttir, listheimspekingur og fagstjóri fræðigreina við myndlistardeild Listaháskóla Íslands auk Libiu Castro listamanns.
Frekari upplýsingar er hægt að nálgast hjá Björgu Stefánsdóttur framkvæmdastjóra KÍM á firstname.lastname@example.org eða 562 7262