Water and Blood, the Icelandic Love Corporation’s (ILC) video-installation in the National Gallery of Iceland is inspired by the life and art of Ásgrímur Jónsson (1876-1958). Eirún Sigurðardóttir and Jóni Jónsdóttir—founding members—pop out of the video and enter into the room dressed in their finest, just as they are on-screen.
“We are mixing together the past and the present in a cocktail which we present as: Water and Blood,” Eirun shares. The premise of the work came from a meeting the collective had with a medium, where they contacted the deceased icon Ásgrímur himself. “We wanted to discover what was left out of the history books.”
“We work across mediums in our practice so we thought why not with a medium?” Eirún explains. This is the second time they’ve engaged the research tool that they refer to as ‘medium-medium.’ “When we first went to a medium it was very dramatic,” Jóni adds. “We won’t go into that here but there was no turning back. It gave so much to the process.”
Ásgrímur, who was one of the first professional artists in Iceland, was also a pioneer in drawing trolls and hidden people. The video addresses these elements as well. “Ásgrímur told us when we met with him that it was sometimes like something was reaching through his hands and painting through him,” Jóní shares matter-of-factly. “He implied that he was not alone in creating all his works… We were certainly not alone in creating this work. We had amazing people with us in this process —Ásgrímur included.”
“Once we had spoken to him we started to think about what compels us as artists. What was it that compelled him?” Jóni explains. “We joke a bit that the work is a collaboration with a deceased artist, because he gave us so much.” Eirún adds, “There are scenes in the video that Ásgrímur showed to the medium—the scene where the young boy strokes the grass is a memory he showed her.”
Forces of nature
The ILC see water and blood as driving forces. “Water always finds a way,” Jóní emphasises. “No matter if you try to block it, it always finds another direction to flow and thrive. It’s resourceful. Like the artist and feminism, blood is the creative force—artists are all blood-related through creativity.”
The Icelandic Love Corporation are queens of the visual arts in their own right, and the group has been hypnotising and conjuring since they formed the group in 1996. “We often talk about the ILC as a tree,” Eirún explains. “We have to water it and tend to it. There are roots, and its wooden crown is gaining rings. It’s growing up.” Jóní agrees. “If we work hard, we will live for 800-years through our work.”
Info: Located in the National Gallery of Iceland, Water and Blood is open until March 1st 2020. You can also visit Ásgrímur Jónsson’s collection and home at Bergstaðastræti 74. Check listasafn.is for opening times. Join the ILC, Sigriður Þorgeirsdóttir, and Guðni Tómasson on February 15th at 11:00 for an artist talk on Water and Blood (in Icelandic).
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