Published October 4, 2017
In art as in life there are things you get and things that you just can’t place. You have things that catch your eye because they’re beautiful and those that grab you aggressively by the collar because they’re—let’s just say it—plain weird.
Helena Aðalsteinsdóttir’s creations fall heavily within the second category. Her car-crash-inspired sculpture with a metal door that encouraged the viewer to “ride like the wind to feel free again,” while car pieces were flying all around, would leave you scratching your head for an embarrassing amount of time. But how many times can you walk around a setting like this and discover a new side of it with every turn? How many questions can one ask oneself about a single sculpture? If a piece sparks that much debate, there must be something to it and, as in most things, it’s there somewhere, hidden and waiting for you to find it.
The inner energy of things
Helena is a master at hiding clues. “I put some in each object so when they are together they form a storyline,” she explains. “The closer you look at it, somehow the more clues you get and then you can build up your own story of what’s happening in front of you.” Although it seems oh-so-calculated, Helena works intuitively so that even when she makes sketches the material ends up steering the process in its own direction. Her work is raw, as if she were trying to get right into things and turn them inside out, spilling out an unpredictable stream of thoughts. Far from static, much of what Helena does is almost liquid in its essence.
“It has a lot to do with movement,” she says. “I really try to make inanimate objects come alive. All things store energy, no? So I want to be able to show that objects have this energy and that they’ve been part of a bigger story.” Just as Pollock waited for the brush to guide his hand on the canvas, Helena’s intuitions and sudden movements give her a chance to explore sides of her sculptures that were unknown even to her.
Frequencies on Sequences
Despite living in Amsterdam, Helena has been working on a sculpture that will be showcased in Iceland at the Sequences Festival. Instructed to use time as her raw material, Helena decided to stretch her hands towards the past and the future, exploring the concept of technology and the way we choose to pour our egos and identities into it. Also, in collaboration with the festival and her friend Ásgerður Birna Björnsdóttir, Helena has been curating ‘GSM: Frequences on Sequences,’ which will channel art spaces through radio frequencies. “Radio is never used as an art platform,” Helena explains. “So we thought we’d tell the artists that they have to think about these three minutes as a physical space that they kind of install their work into.”
Perhaps Virginia Woolf was right, and time flows inside people rather than outside. But in Helena’s work, space and matter also cease to follow traditional paradigms of empirical perception, shaping a world where our minds are just another room we can dwell in.