At the top floor of an unassuming building in downtown Reykjavík, five young women are discussing the faltering equilibrium between time and space in this technology-dependent era. But these are no nouveau Bohemians. Instead, they’re part of a group of students who saw the subject of their new exhibition expand into just such unexpected debates.
The public & the private
As they began organising an exhibition for a curating course at the Iceland Academy of The Arts, they started to plan a round up of the work and performances of seven professional and amateur artists. The show would take place as a live performance on April 20th, held only once, for only three hours. The idea was to return the curatorial process to everyday reality by staging the exhibition in an apartment, to engage with the idea of public and private space in a fresh way.
“We feel like a lot of contemporary art spaces deal with performances in a very academic way, stressing about what they’re saying and the historical context and so forth,” says Þórhildur Tinna Sigurðardóttir. “So we just wanted to loosen it up and do something sincere. We didn’t want the performance to be static.”
In this environment shaped by collective ideas, the exhibition took on a life of its own. The collection of temporary, real-time works challenges the traditional exhibition format, in terms of both presentation and documentation. In an environment that combines physical presence with technological abstractions, the viewer is surrounded by a set of contrasting realities that all exist at once.
“All these works inspire curiosity and excitement towards alternative dimensions of time and space because they transcend these concepts,” Tinna explains. “We wanted the performances to be tactile, and for the audience to engage with them. So the artists deal with questions about sexuality, gender, intimacy, openness; accidental glimpses into something very public, and also the more mundane elements of daily life.”
On a whole new level
The project presented significant logistical and organisational challenges. Some of the artists, in fact, are not based in Iceland—Sion Prior lives in Australia, while Sigrún Gyða Sveinsdóttir will be Skyping in from Berlin. “We had to find different ways to approach the work of artists who aren’t present, while still making them part of the shared space,” Sarah Maria Yasdani explains.
Working with scents and tastes was one way to weave a sensory connection between audience and artist. “While on Skype, for example, Sigrún will be eating oranges and engaging in conversation, while the viewer also eats oranges and can interact with her at the same time,” Sunna Ástþórsdóttir adds.
Lithuanian performer Monika Kipurtye will be bringing elements of the theatre into a living space, while Icelandic artist Drengurinn Fengurinn will explore the concepts of intimacy and masculinity in the privacy of a bedroom. “This could be a series,” says Tinna. “This time it’s at Klapparstígur 12, but next time it could be another address!” The ladies laugh at the idea, but there’s an assertiveness in their carefree attitude. We’ll definitely be seeing more of them in the future.
This exhibit will be held on the top floor of Klapparstígur 12, in downtown Reykjavík, on April 20th between 17:00 and 20:00. Drinks and light refreshments will be available downstairs.