From Iceland — WANTED: Corpses or soon-to-be Corpses

WANTED: Corpses or soon-to-be Corpses

Published August 15, 2008

Icelandic artist seeks the dead for a video installation

WANTED: Corpses or soon-to-be Corpses
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Icelandic artist seeks the dead for a video installation

Snorri Ásmundsson has the reputation of being Iceland’s most infamous artist. If one’s in doubt, his provoking pieces must authenticate his fame. He caused quite a stir selling letters of absolution a few years ago, promising to absolve buyers of all sin. He has run for both the Presidency of the Icelandic Republic and the Mayoral Office in Akureyri for artistic purposes, although he called off both campaigns before the elections after causing a quite a rift in the community. His most recent exploit was to organize a prayer ceremony in Hljómskálagarðurinn Park where he offered people from every religion to come and pray together.

What aroused the Grapevine’s attention to this innovative artist was a recent advertisement he sent out to several media outlets, calling for people’s dead bodies to be used in his forthcoming video-instalment. Although he promised to return the corpses in the same condition he received them in, this obviously provoked some questions. Snorri describes himself as both a scorpion and a ‘firehorse,’ driven by some indescribable force, trying to taunt himself in as many ways as he can. Asked about his upcoming piece he explained that he thinks working with cadavers is extremely exhilarating. “The piece itself is an ode to life and not dramatic or serious in any way. I don’t look at death as an ending but a beginning of something unknown,” he elaborates. He doesn’t want to depict the piece too thoroughly for the simple reason that he can’t: “I look at it as an abstract painting in the making; the painter really doesn’t know how it’s going to look.”

When asked how the search is going he says there have been some informal advances but the whole quest is in a sensitive stage at the moment. He is though very optimistic and expects to intercept a corpse in at least a year’s time. The installment itself will be in the Akureyri Art Museum sometime in 2009. “The piece itself will of course rely on the condition of the cadaver, the disease that caused its current state and my drive-force’s adaptability to the piece,” Snorri says, adding that if he doesn’t pull off his corpse-seeking plans here in Iceland, he has no worries for he says other communities are bound to be more welcoming to his artistic endeavors.

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