Seven promising recent graduates come together in ‘All is Fair’, an exhibition at the spirited Kling & Bang gallery curated by Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir, Ingibjörg Sigurjónsdóttir and Una Björg Magnúsdóttir.
“What connects them is their easy going attitude, and low key installations,” says Una. “The core of the work—which possibly defines the spirit of the times—matters more than their presentations. The idea of ‘the genius’ has left.” She pauses. “Except when it comes to Almar Steinn Atlason. There, the artist is still very present and approaching, as he states in the work.”
Spikes, sunscreen and weeds
We’re first invited to try on pairs of delicate sandals made from used pizza boxes and hung on spikes reminiscent of a torture chamber. Indriði Arnar Ingólfsson’s poetic use of cheap, ready-made materials is reminiscent of conceptual artists like Rivane Neuenschwander and Art Provera.
Many of the works in the show have interactive elements, and play with our senses—such as in the ice cream of Ieva Grigelionyté, which is flavoured with common roadside weeds. In ‘Scent of Summer’ by Svanhildur Halla Haraldsdóttir we’re invited to handle small soap-like bars made from sunscreen that function as time capsules of summer. We listen to a soundtrack that tunes us in to the smells and environs of The Marshall House and its surroundings. There’s something strange and exciting in this mixture.
Tiny archives and a sailboat from Sicily
New York-based Petra Hjartardóttir continues this underlining of the everyday, using a combination of decorative metalwork with hobby clay, and enveloping sandbags with velvet cushion ornamentation. There is a tiny archive of “Personal Achievements” by Gylfi Freeland Sigurðsson, which—with it’s play on size—makes people’s mundane achievements seem monumental.
Almar Steinn Atlason has been known as “Almar in the box” since he spent several days nude living in a glass box in a previous artwork. In “The Artist Approaches” he sails from Sicily to Reykjavík, and we see a map of his route and handwritten letters he mails along the way. There’s an undertone of art historical irony, referencing Jan Bas Adder’s ‘In Search of the Miraculous’—during which the artist was lost at sea and never found—and other travel and postcard documentation works from the ‘60s and ‘70s, mixed with real sentiments. It’s an impressive undertaking, but lacks original framing.
A stimulus package for artists
In “Stimulus” Sigrún Gyða Sveinsdóttir deals with the need for encouragement, and the correlation between being creative recognition and stamina. “I got a lecture at work from a life coach dealing with workplace moral,” Sigrún explains. “He only used sports metaphors and endlessly stated that we needed to be a good team. I wanted to transfer this into the context of the arts.“
In the work we see a video of a life coach, dressed in sporting attire, urging the artist on. Next to it a projection runs, showing a musical ensemble and an opera singer wearing sweatbands. They perform the score we see on the wall, entitled “Tell Me a Bit More,” and cheer frantically for each other. Having a need for such stimulus is often looked down upon, but has an important role to play in enabling the artist to push on; here, it’s both sincere and humorous.
‘All is Fair’ has hit and miss qualities, but the rooms are full of potential. The lineup is exciting, and the artists are definitely ones to watch for the future.
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