She might have graduated from the Iceland Academy of Arts only recently, but Auður Lóa Guðnadóttir has already become one of the hottest emerging artists to follow in Iceland. From her exhibition on Lady Diana to her quirky sculptures, Auður’s sense of humour follows her every step of the way.
She is particularly interested in the relationship between lies, myths and truth, and her role in the art scene. “As an artist you have freedom and what you create does in no way need to represent actual facts,” she says. “It does not even need to convey ‘truth’ for that matter. But there is a certain responsibility.”
Here are a couple of things that tickle her imagination.
Fiction: strong imagery & symbolism
I read a lot. I am drawn to strong imagery and symbolism, drama, classic magical realism like in the works of Haruki Murakami, Gabriel García Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges.
This year I’ve been reading books almost explicitly by women, like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jamaica Kincaid, the fantastic Yiyun Li and Xiaolu Guo. Sexism is a tricky thing within the arts, one reads so many male authors by default. One needs to set the scales oneself.
History & podcasts
I work at the National Museum of Iceland, where I am constantly surrounded by our national history. I encounter other histories too, as I often listen to podcasts. For example, a RÚV program like “Í Ljósi Sögunnar” and two interesting BBC radio shows—the “BBC History Hour” and “History Extra Podcast”. I particularly like Mary Beard, a popular historian with an interesting role. She produces such insightful narratives and has a great sense of humour. One of her most recent books Women and Power is a thriller.
Art history: naivist and folk art
It’s a well that is never dry. There is a vast amount of interesting work and craftsmanship in this world. Is it possible to understand historical context? Recently I’ve been watching the BBC series “Civilisations” a remake of the once revolutionary “Civilisation” by Kenneth Clarke. Now I see the history of art I was taught in school for six years was biased and Eurocentric.
I enjoy going to museums—leafing through art history books, browsing the internet. I am interested in naivist and folk art, as well as religious illustrations from when most people could not read—so practical.
When I see works of art that really appeal to me, sometimes I just wish I’d done that.
Other artists: a love story
To name a few: Frida Kahlo, Ragnar Kjartansson, Mamma Andersson and the ever wonderful David Hockney. My beau and I, along with a couple of friends, took a trip to London last year explicitly to see David Hockney’s retrospective at the Tate. Time and money well spent.
And his paintings are amazing.
Antiques: the in-between things
When I’m uninspired I sometimes go to a flea market like Góði Hirðirinn. If I had more money I’d maybe be an antique collector like Ai Weiwei. I’d start by buying a couple of shelves of Staffordshire dogs. They are strange and expensive, old, kept in old homes, prized, but also discarded. They are an in-between thing. Like history, art history, fiction, thinking about other artists, the internet.
The dark corners of the Internet
I do a lot of research when I’m working on a project. That requires a lot of time spent browsing the internet. You can read about anatomy and functionality of human muscles, how and why you should dress like a librarian, even how to make a dachshund out of a Twix bar.
I do a lot of research on “pointless” things, like animals in human clothing riding skateboards. (Why are cats scared of cucumbers anyway? Lots of theories.) For my last project I ended up watching about a dozen documentaries about Princess Diana and the British Royal family. I’m not even a royalist.
Read the makings of more artists here.