Last weekend, the Icelandic Photography Festival opened in galleries all over Reykjavík. One large-scale exhibition proved a particular draw—an ambitious multimedia group show called “Embody” at Gerðarsafn in Kópavogur. The show features a diverse range of work by eighteen artists, including previous Grapevine cover stars Elín Hansdóttir and Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, aka Shoplifter.
The curator of the exhibition is Brynja Sveinsdóttir (pictured above, right). “The works are connected through the theme of the body, and embodiment,” says Brynja. “The title, ‘Embody,’ in English, comes from phenomenology—the philosophical attempt of man to discover a direct connection between the body and the world.”
Examining how we relate to the world opened up questions about identity, physicality, and selfhood, says Brynja.
“’Embody’ a word that reminds us that we experience everything as bodies,” she explains. “We aren’t a divided soul and body—we’re bodily beings. There are a lot of works that connect to the bodily experience of the world, whether through small sculptures, where touch is a way of experiencing the world, to works that refer to the body as the medium through performance—a living sculpture. Other works refer to everyday objects, physical nature, and the world around us.”
While the exhibition is part of the photography festival, Brynja also sought to stretch the boundaries of the exhibition’s remit.
“Photography as an art medium is at the heart of the exhibition,” she says, “but I also wanted to expand it into film, sculpture and performance, to expand the ability of photographs to make everyday objects very aesthetic, and to give them deeper meaning. So it’s also about expanding the medium. I also gave myself permission to not make it too much of an art-historical project, but to connect it very much to the visual aspects of the work. That, and creating a feeling that you can find threads between the different works.”