Meeting in the studio with ten days to go until the opening of her next exhibit ‘Elsewhere,’ visual artist Elín Hansdóttir is in the exciting final stages of preparations. Known for large scale immersive installations, film and photography, she’s trying something new for this one. “I’ve never done casting,” she says, pointing to the newly finished sculptural pieces sitting on the studio floor. “And in trying a new process, there are many things you don’t think about, but that’s the excitement and the challenge.”
A change in scale
Elín is known for creating temporary interventions installed directly into a space. “Normally I would be building at this moment in time—I would need ten days to construct. But this time I’m trying out something else. I decided to scale down and see what happens,” she explains.
The change in scale, she emphasises, brings a shift in focus, “It’s like putting on your glasses, everything becomes really crisp and then you take them off and see the bigger picture,” she says. “It requires a different kind of attention.”
Whilst there might be a departure in media and scale of work in this new exhibition, Elín is thematically still following her familiar thread of considering how we perceive and inhabit space. “It’s the inside of Ásmundarsalur, but I’m adding a fictional space,” she says, explaining that the casts will be accompanied by large scale photographs, allowing the viewer to further occupy this illusionary world.
“I’m intrigued by works of art where you don’t have an overview, like immersive spaces where you are not in control and you don’t really know what’s going to happen. It changes your perception of who you are and how you experience space,” she says. “I’m curious to see if that’s also possible on a smaller scale. Is it possible to look at a model of a space that you’re actually in and imagine yourself as a small person experiencing what you’re looking at?”
Imposing no meaning
By scaling down, the exhibition will hopefully open a new world of exploration. “I’m hoping that walking in to the exhibition will be something like reading a book. Because when you read a novel you’re imagining the character that you’re reading about; you imagine the space they’re within, the building, the cities, it’s all a construction of your mind,” she explains. “So I’m hoping that this exhibition might be read in this way, and that there is a kind of leeway for the visitor to contribute.”
Returning to craft and making is an essential element of this show for Elín. “I have always been really fascinated by people who dedicate their lives to learning a craft. I’ve never regarded myself as a specialist in anything. But by learning and making, and building all these things, it’s a joy for me, and it’s important that you enjoy the making process.”
But the conclusion, she emphasises, is not dogmatic. “I prefer not to impose too much meaning,” she concludes. “I’m interested in how we experience architecture with our bodies, and how we embody an experience. I’m interested in how we navigate and experience the city; how we dwell in the city and how the city dwells in us. It’s a reciprocal relationship, and it’s the same with these works.”
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