From Iceland — THE PRESENT IS OVER! Þórdís Erla Zoëga Talks The Digital Age, Online Mediums & Documenting Art

THE PRESENT IS OVER! Þórdís Erla Zoëga Talks The Digital Age, Online Mediums & Documenting Art

Published February 18, 2021

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick & Owen Fiene

As a flicker of light appears at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we sat down with the next generation of Icelandic artists to discuss the future. The conversations were freeform—some focused on the upcoming years, others reflected on realisations from the past months, others still looked with wide-eyes at the future of the scene, which has only grown within the restrictions of the coronavirus.

Presenting, an artistic vision of the future, as told by the future. Today, we talk to Þórdís Erla Zoëga.

Note: In the print version of this article, the first photo of Þórdís’s artwork lacked photo credit. It was taken by photographer Owen Fiene. We deeply apologise for the mistake.

Þórdís Erla Zoëga

Þórdís Erla Zoëga. Photo by Art Bicnick

Þórdís Erla Zoëga

“I remember last January—before this whole thing started—looking at my calendar like ‘Oh shit, how am I going to do this year?’” Þórdís Erla Zoëga says, somewhat incredulously. “My boyfriend and I were planning on getting married, I had a few exhibitions [planned], and we had also started a design studio. So I actually kind of liked having everything postponed.”

Artwork by Þórdís Erla Zoëga. Photo by Owen Fiene.

Tech-savvy art

Þórdís’s works are known for using vivid and exuberant mediums to investigate balance and symmetry. Her most recent exhibition was ‘Hyper Cyber’ at Þula, which explored the digital age using dichroic films and UV lights. Outside of that, she works as a web developer and graphic designer.

Thanks to her background, Þórdís found herself uniquely qualified to confront the challenges of being an artist in the pandemic. “Yes, I think people that were already working in digital media,” she explains, “we were like—oh, this is my turf.”

She, therefore, knew how to turn her eyes towards this new consumption model and did so—to great success. “It’s been really good for me. It’s gotten a lot of interest in my work and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s good if you are quite tech-savvy and can make yourself a good website.

Artwork by Þórdís Erla Zoëga.

Cyber aesthetic

Regardless of how well Þórdís adapted to digital platforms, the platforms themselves have limits, which she found in the midst of the aforementioned ‘Hyper Cyber’.

“I work a lot on my computer and I liked the aspect of taking all the aesthetic elements out of the computer screens we have in front of us all day and removing the technological aspect except for the lighting,” she explains, when asked about the origins of the exhibition. “These works—even though they are really new—they are really retro in how they are set up.”

‘Hyper Cyber’ was rife with digital symbolism, references to the “old days” of the internet, and bright Miami-style shining lights. That said, it was primarily made with plexiglass, which created some unforeseen challenges when Þórdís attempted to show it to the digital world.

“Pictures didn’t really do it justice. It was a bit of an art form to document,” she laughs.

In the grand scheme though, as cheesy as it sounds, the pandemic has just made Þórdís realise how lucky she was in the pre-pandemic world. It’s not something she’ll take for granted again, she emphasises. “It’s just like, wow, I didn’t really value my freedom as much—like going abroad,” she concludes. “Or even just to touch every surface possible and then lick my hand!” She pauses, laughing. “It’ll be hard to not be constantly aware of everything I’m touching.”

Check out Þórdís Erla Zoëga at her website.

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