Artists Claire Paugam and Raphaël Alexandre recently opened an intriguing interactive exhibiton entitled ‘Versatile Uprising’ at the Wind and Weather Window Gallery on Hverfisgata. Made up of ethereal sculptures, the work speaks to bypassers through an ever-changing light and soundscape; when you touch the hand on the window, the lights turn white, and the music changes its tone. It’s left to you to decide what qualities your presence added to the landscape.
After graduating with an MFA from the Iceland University of Arts in 2016, Claire met Raphaël through the Listastofan arts space. The two have since joined the board of the eclectic arts collective Weird Kids, which creates space for international and Icelandic artists to collaborate on multidisciplinary events.
Borders of reality
The Wind and Weather Window Gallery at Hverfisgata 27 is a very literal window into Reykjavík’s contemporary art scene. Accessibility to the public was always an important factor in their work. “Our original intention was to make a diorama, like you’d see in a natural history museum,” says Claire. Dioramas are often merely an informative representation of past realities. With ‘Versatile Uprising,’ Claire and Raphaël make a diorama of a different kind of scene.
“This landscape doesn’t refer to anything specific on earth,” Claire explains. “It was important for us to move this diorama to the street. They are usually inside a museum, or a cinema. We thought a lot about street art, there’s a common ground between street art and what we have made. If you are walking down Hverfisgata you have to see it. It’s just in front of your eyes.”
To Claire, the window is a border between reality and fiction. “When it’s located on the street like this, it creates a moment of communication between the two,” she says. “We wanted to have it open to everyone as a space ready to be integrated into our reality.”
Claire invited Raphaël to join her in proposing a show for the Wind and Weather Window Gallery not long before they started working with Weird Kids. The two come from different backgrounds: Claire has established her practice in the fine arts, while Raphaël has a background in computer science engineering that he’s been evolving into a technology-based arts practise.
Their first collaboration was a set design for a Weird Kids party at Mengi in August 2018, which featured Special-K, Madonna + Child and SiGRÚN. Their contribution could have been a rehearsal for ‘Versatile Uprising,’ as they created a reactive light installation.
The two artists are still buzzing from opening their show, and even after this short period of collaboration, they already finish each other’s sentences. They worked intensely on this piece for six months. “We are just not allowed to speak about our work now,” laughs Raphaël. We’re taking a break from talking about art for two weeks.” The two giggle, however, already thinking about the next steps for their exciting budding collaboration.
‘Versatile Uprising’ is a window into a mysterious landscape. It’s a memorable experience, and whether you’re a casual passerby, or an intentional visitor, it’s worth taking a moment to press your hand against the glass and watch how it affect the otherworldly landscape inside.
Visit Versatille Uprising at Hverfisgata 37 until February 26th. The piece is turned on between 10:00 and 04:00, and the sound is on until 21:00.