Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, who works under the nom-du-guerre Shoplifter, has been announced as Iceland’s representative at the 58th Venice Biennial art fair, to be held in 2019. This prestigious event sees countries around the world put forward a single artist to represent them every two years in a sprawling exhibition series that receives over 500,000 visitors each time.
“I’m really happy about this,” said Hrafnhildur, at the announcement event. “It’s like getting to the Olympics of art. The Icelandic Pavilion always draws attention, and I do not intend to change that.”
The selection process began with an open call. A jury, convened by the Icelandic Art Centre, created an shortlist. Shoplifter was their final selection, and joins a list that includes many of Iceland’s most noteable artists, including Rúri, Gabríela Fríðriksdóttir, and Ragnar Kjartansson.
Hrahnhildur’s work revolves around the use of human and synthetic hair, often arranged in colourful, large scale installations. Her show at Iceland’s National Gallery in 2017 met with considerable acclaim. You can read our cover story interview with Hrafnhildur—entitled “Hypernature: Shoplifter Showers The World With Colour”—here.
“I have this theory that colour penetrates your retina, goes into your brain, and turns on the natural ecstasy,” said Hrafnhildur. “It has the power to affect the way you feel—not just visually, but your relationship to size, and the scale of the world. You can feel like you’re a tiny organism in somebody’s fur. I’m changing people into lice! And just showering them in colour.”
The Venice Biennial will take place 11th May—24th November 2019, around the city of Venice, Italy.