Making of an Artist: Elín Hansdóttir - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Making of an Artist: Elín Hansdóttir

Making of an Artist: Elín Hansdóttir

Published April 20, 2017

Photos by
Varvara Lozenko

Elín Hansdóttir is a prolific Icelandic sculptor who recently concluded a solo show at the i8 gallery. Here, she talks us through some artists, books and films that had a formative influence on her work.

Photograph: “Leap into the Void” (Yves Klein, 1960)

This photograph has stuck with me since my studies. I have the feeling that it’s always at the back of my mind, almost as if it’s a reminder of some sort. Klein takes this courageous leap into the unknown and to me he seems to have no doubt that it’s the only way towards true freedom. I’m really fascinated with the ability to create (an impression of) freedom through a highly contrived process.

Book: ‘Ways of Seeing’ (John Berger, 1972)

This book is based on the BBC television series of the same name (which I highly recommend watching). It´s a collection of seven numbered essays, four using words and images, and three using only images. It criticizes traditional Western cultural aesthetics by raising questions about hidden ideologies in visual images. It opened my eyes to how women are portrayed in advertisements and oil paintings through the centuries.

Film: ‘La Jetée’ (Chris Marker, 1962)

This film is a tale of time travel that is constructed almost entirely with still photographs. It was incredibly inspiring for me to learn how the fusion of language and image can manipulate our interpretation and understanding.

Performance: The Dorine Chaikin Trilogy (Signa artistic collective 2007-2008)

Around ten years ago I was walking home early in the evening in Berlin. All of a sudden I was stopped by what looked like a nurse from the 1950s, who asked me for advice on something on her evening smoke break. She lured me into her office and before I knew it I had changed into a patient’s robe and spent the next six hours in a situation which was unlike anything I’d experienced before. I became a patient in a mental institute, and spent my time engaging with the hospital staff as well as other patients. What blew my mind was how the boundary between audience and performer were completely blurred, not on a conceptual level, but a real-life level. I noticed a change in my own behaviour, I made stories up about myself, pretended to want things and tried to provoke the other performers. And after a while, I wasn’t sure which of the conversations that I was having with the others were real or fake.

Film: ‘THX 1138’ (George Lucas, 1971)

This science fiction film depicts a dystopian future, controlled by an omnipresent mind-control machine, where drugs that suppress emotion are mandatory. What I liked most about the film is the prison, which is presented as a boundless white void.

Installation: ‘Kristus och Judas: A Structural Conceit’ (Mike Nelson, 2008-2010)

In 2010 I saw this installation by Mike Nelson at the National Gallery in Copenhagen. Mike Nelson’s works are fascinating to me because he fools your expectations. All the while you’ve been looking for the “art,” walking along a very long curved corridor which looks similar to any other museum corridor, and you realise that you’re already inside the work. The curved corridor is custom-built and leads you through doors and uncanny rooms. He plays with your memory by duplicating the room you just walked through, but mirrors it so it kind of looks the same but doesn’t feel the same.

Read more “Making Of An Artist” articles here.

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