LIMULUS, 2013. Video still

14.09 /13.10      HAFRÚN

 

                            SONIA LEVY / KAREN KRAMER

 

Artists Sonia Levy and Karen Kramer submerge Verksmiðjan á Hjalteyri into the depths of the sea with Hafrún. The first collaborative exhibition between the two London based artists, Hafrún interweaves Levy and Kramer’s sustained enquiry into marine life, anthropogenic environmental change and entanglements between lifeforms and ecosystems through installation and artist moving image. The exhibition is saturated with the history of its architectural context, a former herring factory, which was swiftly constructed with a concrete mix of cement, aggregate and seawater to respond to the needs of the fishing industry in 1950. Since then abandoned by the profit-making agents who commissioned it, the old factory is now a ruin of industrial production, vibrant with the traces of watery histories embedded to its materiality. Hafrún is the name given posthumously to the oldest known ocean quahog, who was dredged off the coast of Grímsey in 2006 and died soon after in the hands of scientists. At the time of being captured, Hafrún was 507 years old, having lived through all three historical eras that have been proposed to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene1: the Western colonial invasion of the Americas, the Industrial Revolution, and the 20th century Great Acceleration, characterised by the rapid development of nuclear technologies. Like the growth rings of trees, ocean quahogs’ shells carry a detailed record of the conditions in which the clams have lived. The shells are now studied as material archives that capture centuries of environmental change and, with paradigms developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, they are analysed to forecast ecological futures of the planet. The exhibition is anchored in Levy’s eponymous project (Hafrún, 2019) filmed in collaboration with diver Erlendur Bogasson. The two-channel video installation portrays the laboratory process of collecting data from ocean quahogs’ shells. The shells are meticulously numbered, measured, embedded in resin and cut to study the patterns within their intricate internal layers, which on a microscopic scale evoke topographic maps of ancient landscapes. The rigorous process of extraction and analysis is paired with Bogasson’s underwater footage from a series of hydrothermal vents at an unusually shallow depth near the northern coast of Iceland. It is near these vents where Hafrún was found over a decade ago. These openings on the seafloor, through which geothermally heated water flows into the cold sea, host complex communities of marine organisms and have been theorised as one possible location for the origin of life. Hafrún’s sex was never determined, but their given name is feminine and denotes a mysterious symbol connected to the sea. Evoking the notion of Woman as the mysterious other and the deep, dark sea as otherworldly and unfathomable in its vastness, the case of Hafrún brings forth the prevailing association between the sea and women’s bodies. Both appear in the Western cultural imaginary as unpredictable, controlled by liquid flows, attuned to the moon and, above all, as generators of life. But as feminist scholar Astrida Neimanis writes, watery embodiment is not only specific to women or femininity but, rather, is something to which we are all equally connected. The main constituent component of our bodies, water flows through all of us without differentiation, sustains us and, through our dependence on it, inherently connects us to other bodies of water.2 Levy’s For the Love of Corals (2018), the predecessor of Hafrún, addresses our indebtedness to, and responsibility towards, our aqueous companions. The project follows a team of marine biologists and aquarists in the basement of the Horniman Museum and Gardens in London, as they work on their pioneering coral reproduction research. By simulating the environmental conditions of the Great Barrier Reef in their ad-hoc laboratory, the team became the first in the world to successfully breed corals in captivity. Levy’s two-channel film examines the potential of the museum to host a collaborative survival endeavour between species, as new paradigms for environmental conservation and natural history emerge in the face of accelerated ecological decline. While the museum context may still echo the Enlightenment values of human mastery over nature — after all, the corals are kept in captivity as part of the Horniman’s ‘living collection’ — the shared attempt to save corals from their anthropogenic extinction also establishes a new generative assemblage of living beings and biotechnology. Levy shows how the scientists and the coral create their own world in common through the daily labour of life-affirming care. Although Levy, too, maintains an ambivalent attitude towards scientific innovation, it is in Kramer’s filmic fables that humans’ technological advances, especially in their collisions with bodies of water, unfold the full extent of their ominous potential. In Limulus (2013), a deflated Mickey Mouse balloon, now worn and forgotten ocean debris, relates its encounter with a horseshoe crab on the ocean floor. Our ghostly narrator has borne witness to the distress of the aquatic being who, after 450 million years on Earth, is now on the brink of extinction because humans have ceaselessly harvested its blood for pharmaceutical consumption. The tale is interjected by a Seeburg Olympian jukebox, a recent yet already redundant technological invention, accentuating the short-lived relevance of human endeavours. With Limulus, Kramer attends to timescales beyond human existence to make palpable the damage that our self-preserving species has caused to prehistoric life forms, next to whom our own appearance on this planet is only a brief sojourn. Hafrún, For the Love of Corals and Limulus articulate the myriad ways in which humans have studied, intervened with, harvested from and sought to master bodies of water. Diverting from this narrative, Kramer’s The eye that articulates belongs on land (2016) portrays water as a fundamentally uncontrollable force that also holds power over life on terra firma. Scanning the coastal landscapes of eastern Japan affected by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which led to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the film considers the threshold between land and sea, and the unthinkable temporalities inherent to the aftermath of a nuclear meltdown. The roam across these deserted sites is guided by the narration of Sasaki, a mummified Hokkaido fox. An entity caught between worlds and temporalities, Sasaki recalls the catastrophic event and, grief-stricken, reflects on the insignificance of the coastline as the ostensible boundary, which humans had imagined would keep them separate from the sea. Kramer’s contemporary fable is a sombre gaze at the ramifications of hazardous human-made technologies reconfigured by natural forces. At Verksmiðjan á Hjalteyri, Levy and Kramer float through and amongst bodies of water with care and caution, mindful of their vulnerability as well as their strength. With Kramer’s installation evoking the undulation of submerged reeds and Levy and Bogasson’s underwater footage, the artists bring to life the watery origins of the building itself. The concrete architecture of the capitalist ruin turns into a reef, where different life forms and ideas can again take hold to imagine futures beyond human existence. Brought together, Levy and Kramer’s work presents a generative expansion of artistic devices, through which it might be possible to address and grasp the intensity of the imminent ecological crises that have already begun to unfold.Levy’s For the Love of Corals (2018), the predecessor of Hafrún, addresses our indebtedness to, and responsibility towards, our aqueous companions. The project follows a team of marine biologists and aquarists in the basement of the Horniman Museum and Gardens in London, as they work on their pioneering coral reproduction research. By simulating the environmental conditions of the Great Barrier Reef in their ad-hoc laboratory, the team became the first in the world to successfully breed corals in captivity. Levy’s two-channel film examines the potential of the museum to host a collaborative survival endeavour between species, as new paradigms for environmental conservation and natural history emerge in the face of accelerated ecological decline. While the museum context may still echo the Enlightenment values of human mastery over nature — after all, the corals are kept in captivity as part of the Horniman’s ‘living collection’ — the shared attempt to save corals from their anthropogenic extinction also establishes a new generative assemblage of living beings and biotechnology. Levy shows how the scientists and the coral create their own world in common through the daily labour of life-affirming care. Although Levy, too, maintains an ambivalent attitude towards scientific innovation, it is in Kramer’s filmic fables that humans’ technological advances, especially in their collisions with bodies of water, unfold the full extent of their ominous potential. In Limulus (2013), a deflated Mickey Mouse balloon, now worn and forgotten ocean debris, relates its encounter with a horseshoe crab on the ocean floor. Our ghostly narrator has borne witness to the distress of the aquatic being who, after 450 million years on Earth, is now on the brink of extinction because humans have ceaselessly harvested its blood for pharmaceutical consumption. The tale is interjected by a Seeburg Olympian jukebox, a recent yet already redundant technological invention, accentuating the short-lived relevance of human endeavours. With Limulus, Kramer attends to timescales beyond human existence to make palpable the damage that our self-preserving species has caused to prehistoric life forms, next to whom our own appearance on this planet is only a brief sojourn. Hafrún, For the Love of Corals and Limulus articulate the myriad ways in which humans have studied, intervened with, harvested from and sought to master bodies of water. Diverting from this narrative, Kramer’s The eye that articulates belongs on land (2016) portrays water as a fundamentally uncontrollable force that also holds power over life on terra firma. Scanning the coastal landscapes of eastern Japan affected by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which led to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the film considers the threshold between land and sea, and the unthinkable temporalities inherent to the aftermath of a nuclear meltdown. The roam across these deserted sites is guided by the narration of Sasaki, a mummified Hokkaido fox. An entity caught between worlds and temporalities, Sasaki recalls the catastrophic event and, grief-stricken, reflects on the insignificance of the coastline as the ostensible boundary, which humans had imagined would keep them separate from the sea. Kramer’s contemporary fable is a sombre gaze at the ramifications of hazardous human-made technologies reconfigured by natural forces. At Verksmiðjan á Hjalteyri, Levy and Kramer float through and amongst bodies of water with care and caution, mindful of their vulnerability as well as their strength. With Kramer’s installation evoking the undulation of submerged reeds and Levy and Bogasson’s underwater footage, the artists bring to life the watery origins of the building itself. The concrete architecture of the capitalist ruin turns into a reef, where different life forms and ideas can again take hold to imagine futures beyond human existence. Brought together, Levy and Kramer’s work presents a generative expansion of artistic devices, through which it might be possible to address and grasp the intensity of the imminent ecological crises that have already begun to unfold.  Text/Texti: Nella Aarne_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________1 The epoch defined by increased impact of human activity on the Earth’s ecosystems and geology.2 Astrida Neimanis, 'Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water' in Undutiful Daughters: Mobilizing Future Concepts, Bodies and Subjectivities in Feminist Thought and Practice, eds. Henriette Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni and Fanny Söderbäck (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 88-91 

The Eye That Articulates Belongs on Land,

2016. Video still

’For the Love of Corals’ was produced with the support of Obsidian Coast and Fluxus Art Projects

 

The Eye That Articulates Belongs on Land was commissioned for the Jerwood/FVU Awards: Borrowed Time, a collaboration between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and FVU, in association with CCA, Glasgow and University of East London, School of Arts and Digital Industries. Supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. FVU is supported by Arts Council England. Field research in Japan which resulted in Karen Kramer's proposal for The Eye That Articulates Belongs On Land was supported by Arts Catalyst and NPO S-Air.

15.06 / 28.07 COMMENT çA VA? APRÈS GODARD / HOW´S IT GOING? AFTER GODARD Hvernig hefur þú það ? EFTIR GODARD Eric Baudelaire - Louidgi Beltrame - Safia Benhaïm - Wang Bing - Nicolas Boone - Jean- Luc Godard - Paul Grivas - Parfait Kaboré - Lamine Ammar Khodja - Lech Kowalski - Allan Sekula - Marie Voignier Sýningarstjórar /Curators: Pascale Cassagnau, Gústav Geir Bollason Texti /Text: Pascale Cassagnau HOW´S IT GOING / Comment ça va? AFTER GODARD The Comment ça va? D’après Godard project and programme draws on the eponymous 1978 film by Jean-Luc Godard ("How's It Going?") to showcase documentaries and informational films that demonstrate an ability to transcend time and capture the essence of truth and reality, not as a means to an end, but rather as tools and resources that forge a path, undertake a journey through a complex political landscape. All the works here are elaborated as virtual meta-essay on the communication process. In Comment ça va ? (1978, 70’), a wide-ranging cultural implications movie, Jean-Luc Godard filmed an exchange between the editor of a communist and trade unionist newspaper and his colleague, a left-wing activist, as they put together a piece designed to show the processes involved in producing their daily paper. The film is about politics and the media, in which two workers in a newspaper plant attempt to make a film. Combining video and film, Comment ça va? is a dialectic on the dissemination and the processing of information, a movie about the transmission of ideas by the major media.. The pair disagree on how information ought to be handled, and in particular on how two specific images should best be used and captioned. The first shows civilians and soldiers in conflict during Portugal's Carnation Revolution, and the second a clash between strikers and French anti-riot forces during a protest. While the film succeeds in 'exposing' all the complexities of the ideological tensions and dissent that divide France's left wing, through the editing and sense of movement it also dissects the rhetorical dimension at play when news is written. Comment ça va? (How it is going?) asks Comment ça va le cinema? ( How is the cinema going?) as well. With Comment ça va ?How it is going?, Jean-Luc Godard was reaffirming an aesthetic programme, a thought by the media and the cinema. The works that feature in the Comment ça va? D’après Godard line-up put forth a certain number of hypotheses that simultaneously touch upon a cross-section of the various motifs inherent to contemporary art, the artistic process itself, and the scope for narrative in doing justice to "stories that cry out to be told", to use a turn of phrase coined by the philosopher Paul Ricoeur in Temps et Récit I. This is a collection of films anchored in conscious thought. Films/Screenings: About a nomadic form of cinema. Among all the parallel histories which have been woven between contemporary art and the expanded field of creation, the mutual relationships between cinema and art have played an essential role throughout the aesthetic history of the twentieth century, producing an analysis of images and of the mass media as well as a critique of representation. A certain number of contemporary works in the field of video or motion pictures make explicit references to cinema in various ways which designate a set of common hypotheses concerning representation and which Serge Toubiana primarily defines as motion. He says: “cinema is motion, it is a way of going with reality, of perceiving part of it, of following its course and of marking it with signs.” Even though dialogues between art and cinema go from contemporary art towards cinema, they also designate a move from cinema towards contemporary art with the invention of Unidentified Filmed Objects (another kind of UFOs). For a few years interactions between contemporary art and documentaries have proved particularly fecund because documents and archives considered as an issue and a method have constituted a true mental horizon of empirical data and marks of historicity. This applies to art and cinema alike. The territory of documentaries reveals a working process common to artists and film-makers – the fact that they set up film elements in a non-linear way and outside purely narrative structures. In that regard, the relationships between documentaries and reality or narration are always critical and ambiguous. The horizon of contemporary works of art or cinema – be they close to the audience or more remote – constitutes a specific meta-aesthetic frame due to the fact that entities of universality and wholeness have been irrelevant for a long time. A long time ago they gave way to entities of intersubjectivity and personal re-appropriation of History and individual stories. The own nature of documents could be defined as a value for claiming back forms of subjectivity and historicity. Cinema is now part of the definition of the new conditions of subjectivity, when everyone can write their own biography and claim back their own identity in tight relationship with other people. Programme The programme of video films conceived in the framework of Comment ça va? How it is going? aims to present works that look at the question of information, of which Jean-Luc Godard ‘s film speaks. The works chosen belong to the realm of the new documentary practices that are representative of contemporary french creation in its wider context. These works also show a specific architecture, the architecture of the media, overturning the form of the information in order to criticise the ideological and rhetorical dimension, as well as its effects of violence. The works show a political approach to filmic narrative that sketches a politics of the subject. The work of the image, the way of making editing , the fragmentation, the reference to the filmic space are their most decisive concerns. With*: -Eric Baudelaire, L'Anabase de May et Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi et 27 ans sans images, 2011, 66' -Louidgi Beltrame, Energodar, 2010,36' -Safia Benhaïm, La Fièvre , 2014, 40’. -Wang Bing, 15 Hours, 2017,15h ( 2x7h50) -Nicolas Boone, Hillbrow, 2014, 32’; Psaume,2015, 41'; Las Cruces, 2018,29' -Jean- Luc Godard, Reportage amateur ( maquette –expo) , 2006, 47' -Parfait Kaboré, Place à la révolution, 2017,84' -Lamine Ammar Khodja, Demande à ton ombre, 2012, 82' -Lech Kowalski, I Pay for Your Story, 2015, 86’ -Allan Sekula, The Lottery of The sea, 2006, 27'44'' -Marie Voignier, Hearing, The Shape of the Drum, 2010, 17' +Special screenings: Paul Grivas, Un film catastrophe, 2018, 55´ et Jean Luc Godard, un Film Socialisme , 2010, 102´ * All films are supported by the Center for contemporary art- Image Mouvement committee or purchased. _________________________________________________________________________________ HVERNIG HEFUR ÞÚ ÞAÐ? / Comment ça va? EFTIR GODARD Sýningarverkefnið Comment ça va? D’après Godard dregur nafn sitt af samnefndri kvikmynd eftir Jean-Luc Godard frá 1976 („Hvernig hefurðu það?“). Lögð er áhersla á að sýna tímalausar heimilda- og upplýsingamyndir; myndir sem nálgast kjarna sannleikans og raunveruleikann eins og verkfæri og efniðvið til að ryðja með braut og takast á hendur ferðalag um flókið pólitískt landslag. Allar kvikmyndirnar á sýningunni setja efnið fram sem einskonar meta-ritgerð um samskiptaferli. Comment ça va? (1976, 70‘) er kvikmynd með yfirgripsmikilum menningarlegum vísunum. Í myndinni fylgist Jean-Luc Godard með samskiptum ritstjóra dagblaðs kommúnista og verklýðssamtaka og starfssystur hans, vinstri sinnaðs aðgerðarsinna, á meðan þau eru að klippa myndskeið fyrir stuttmynd um útgáfuferli dagblaðs. Kvikmyndin gerir stjórnmál og fjölmiðla að viðfangsefni með því að sýna starfsmennina búa til myndina. Comment ça va? er tekin upp á bæði filmu og myndband og fjallar á díalektískan hátt um vinnslu og dreifingu upplýsinga. Þetta er kvikmynd um það hvernig stórir fjölmiðlar breiða út hugmyndir. Tvíeykið er ósammála um hvernig eigi að fara með upplýsingarnar. Ekki síst eru þau ósammála um hvernig eigi að nota tvær tilteknar ljósmyndir og skrifa við þær myndatexta. Fyrri ljósmyndin sýnir borgara og hermenn í átökum í Nellikubyltingunni í Portúgal, en hin síðari átök á milli verkfallsmanna og frönsku óeirðarlögreglunnar í mótmælum. Kvikmyndinni tekst að ‚afhjúpa‘ flókna hugmyndafræðilega spennu og ágreining sem aðskilur franskar vinstrihreyfingar. Henni tekst einnig, með klippingu myndarinnar og tilfinningu fyrir hreyfingu, að kryfja hinar ýmsu víddir mælskulistarinnar sem eru að verki þegar skrifaðar eru fréttir. Comment ça va? (Hvernig hefurðu það?) spyr einnig Comment ça va le cinema? (Hvernig hefur kvikmyndalistin það?). Með Comment ça va? Hvernig hefurðu það? vildi Godard ítreka fagurfræðilega stefnuskrá sína og hugsun um fjölmiðla og kvikmyndir. Verkin á sýningunni Comment ça va? D’après Godard setja fram ákveðnar kenningar og sýna þversnið af ólíkum grunnhugmyndum sem eru innbyggðar í samtímalistina, hið listræna ferli og svigrúmið sem kvikmyndirnar hafa til að gera skil „sögum sem kalla á að vera sagðar“, svo vísað sé í setningu eftir heimspekinginn Paul Ricoeur úr Temps et Récit I (Tími og frásögn I). Þetta er samansafn af kvikmyndum sem byggja á meðvitaðri hugsun. Kvikmyndasýning: um rótlaust ástand kvikmyndalistarinnar Á meðal allra þeirra samhliða sagna sem hafa verið fléttaðar saman úr samtímalist og öðru útvíkkuðu sviði sköpunar, hefur gagnkvæmt samband kvikmynda og listar, sem setur fram greiningu á myndum og fjölmiðlum og gagnrýnir framsetningarmáta þeirra, leikið lykilhlutverk í mótun fagurfræði 20. aldar. Ákveðinn fjöldi samtímaverka á sviði vídeólistar, eða hreyfimynda, vísar meðvitað en á ólíkan hátt í kvikmyndir. Í þessum verkum eru settar fram tilgátur um framsetningarmáta sem Serge Toubiana hefur skilgreint sem hreyfingu. Hann segir: „kvikmyndin er hreyfing, hún er leið til að ganga við hlið raunveruleikans, skynja hann, fylgja eftir hreyfingum hans og merkja hann táknum.“ Jafnvel þótt samtímalistin hafi byrjað samtalið á milli listar og kvikmynda, bendir sköpun ‚Óþekktra kvikmyndahluta‘ (Unidentified Filmed Objects eða annarskonar UFOs) til þess að kvikmyndirnar séu farnar að færast nær samtímlistinni. Á allra síðustu árum hafa gagnkvæm áhrif samtímalistar og heimildamynda reynst sérstaklega frjó. Þegar litið er á heimildir og skjöl sem viðfangsefni og aðferð mynda þau sjóndeildarhring byggðan á áþreifanlegum gögnum og ummerkjum um söguleg sannindi. Þetta á við um bæði listina og kvikmyndirnar. Svið heimildamyndanna sýnir vinnuaðferðir sem listamenn og kvikmyndagerðarmenn eiga sameiginlegar – þeir klippa hluti úr filmunni saman á ólínulegan hátt, óháð hefðbundnum frásagnaraðferðum. Að þessu leyti er sambandið á milli heimildarmyndar og raunveruleika eða frásagnar alltaf gagnrýnið og margrætt. Sjóndeildarhringur samtímalistaverka eða kvikmynda – hvort sem hann er nálægur áhorfendum eða fjarlægur þeim – skapar sérstakan yfir-fagurfræðilegan ramma vegna þess að tilvist hins almenna eða heildarinnar hefur í langan tíma ekki verið talin skipta máli. Í staðinn hefur verið lögð áhersla á sjálfstæða tilvist gagnkvæmrar huglægni og persónulegt eignarnám á stórsögunni og sögum einstaklinga. Hægt er að skilgreina eiginleika skjala sem gildi sem gerir á ný kröfu til huglægra viðhorfa og sögulegra sanninda. Kvikmyndin tekur þátt í að skilgreina ný skilyrði fyrir huglæg viðhorf, þegar hver sem er getur skrifað eigin ævisögu og krafist þess að endurheimta eigin samsemd í nánum tengslum við aðra. Dagskrá Dagskrá vídeómynda sem hefur verið sett saman fyrir Comment ca va? Hvernig hefurðu það? hefur það markmið að sýna verk sem velta fyrir sér spurningum um upplýsingar líkt og fjallað er um í kvikmynd Jean-Lucs Godards. Verkin sem hafa verið valin til sýningar tilheyra öll nýju sviði heimildarmyndagerðar og eru fulltrúar fyrir franska samtímalist og listsköpun í víðara samhengi. Verkin sýna einnig ákveðna formgerð, formgerð fjölmiðla. Með því að kollvarpa forminu setja þau fram gagnrýni á hugmyndafræðilega og mælskufræðilega víddir fjölmiðla og ofbeldisfull áhrif þeirra. Verkin sýna pólítíska nálgun á kvikmyndalega frásögn sem dregur fram pólitískar hliðar umræðuefnisins. Þau láta sig afdráttarlaust varða vinnuna með myndefnið, klippinguna, sundrunina og skírskotunina í rými kvikmyndarinnar. Með*: -Eric Baudelaire: Uppreisn May og Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi og 27 ár án mynda, 2011, 66‘ -Loudigi Beltrame: Energodar, 2010, 36‘ -Safia Benhaïm: Hitinn, 2014, 40’ -Wang Bing: 15 tímar, 2017, 15 H (2x7h50) -Nicolas Boone, Hillbrow, 2014, 32‘; Sálmur, 2015, 41‘; Las Cruces, 2018, 29‘ -Jean-Luc Godard, Fréttaflutningur áhugamanns (frumdrög – sýning), 2006, 47‘ -Parfait Kaboré, Rúm fyrir byltingu, 2017, 84‘ -Lamine Ammar Khodja, Spurðu skuggann þinn, 2012, 82‘ -Lech Kowlski, Ég borga fyrir söguna þína, 2015, 86‘ -Allan Sekula, Hlutavelta hafsins, 2006, 27‘44‘‘ -Marie Voignier, Hlustað eftir lögun trommunnar, 2010, 17‘ +Sérstök sýning: Paul Grivas, Stórslysamynd (2018) og Jean-Luc Godard, Kvikmynd um sósíalisma, 2010. * Allar myndirnar hafa hlotið stuðning frá eða verið keyptar af Center for Contemporary Art – Image Mouvement. Þýding: Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir
04.05 / 09.06 FASTIR PUNKTAR / FIXED POINTS Helene Garberg, Kah Bee Chow, Bjarni Þór Pétursson, Þorbjörg Jónsdóttir. Sýningarstjórar / Curators: Bjarni Þór Pétursson, Gústav Geir Bollason Texti / Text : Shauna Laurel Jones Fastir Punktar sýnir hreyfimyndir sem sökkva sér í goðafræði og draumaveröld náttúrulegra svæða. Myndað er á mörgum stöðum svo sem eins og Yucatán í Mexíkó og Amasón héraðið í Kólumbíu, þar sem listamennirnir skoða og rannsaka sérkenni, sögu og andrúmsloft viðfangsefnis og staða. ............................................................................................................................................. Fixed Points present moving image works delving into local mythologies, the dreamworld and our relationship to the natural environment. Filmed in diverse locations such Yucatán in Mexico and the Colombian Amazon, the artists study and examine the specificities, histories and mood of site and place..

“Beyond seven mountains, beyond seven forests…” Thus begins a typical fairytale in Poland. In Korea, the tone is set with “Once, in the old days, when tigers smoked…”i And in the far north of Iceland, here in Hjalteyri, the tale might start with the invocation, “Far away and yet closer than ever, when you open your eyes by closing them tight…”

 

The Four Artists and the Veil

 

Far away and yet closer than ever, four artists sought to weave, collectively, a translucent veil separating one realm from another. On one side of this thin gauze was our world as we live it, and on the other side, the world they knew: a place in which matter is secondary to myth, where transformation and rematerialization happen regularly as a matter of course.

                 It was a place where Don William—the indigenous shaman Þorbjörg Jónsdóttir met in the Colombian Amazon—might have explained why “a man is like a tree,” but he could equally have said, “A man is a tree.” For a person can become a tree, in the four artists’ world, simply by feeling the sap coursing through her veins and allowing her branches to stretch ever so slowly heavenwards.

                 It was also a place where Nature had strong feelings, too, about her form. The land’s idea of its own shape was important, so important it could overpower the other ideas and (market) forces trying to reshape it. Seen from above, the contours of Malaysia’s Penang Island resemble a turtle, and the turtle is auspicious, Kah Bee Chow remembers a teacher once telling her. And so Kah Bee watched with skeptical interest as high-rise condominiums were erected on Penang, recontouring the auspicious coastline with buildings found later to be architecturally unsound. The luxury glass-ensconced buildings would remain uninhabited. Was it the spirit of the turtle, perhaps, who tilted the high-rise off the vertical, a punishment for retracing her shape? Still, “maybe it is a good thing,” writes Gaston Bachelard, “for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, that we shall not have time to achieve it…It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality.”ii And so Kah Bee’s looped video kept that dream alive, the dream of the almost-done glass house.

                Bachelard, the great phenomenologist who sought to understand the relational properties of space, would have felt at home in the four artists’ malleable world. Describing the symbiotic relationship between internal and external, he invokes the poet Rilke, who wrote of a profound experience in a forest: “These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.”iii Þorbjörg and her shaman in the Amazon felt that space, too. And when Þorbjörg searched for the otherworld through the landscape of the jungle, she did not search there because the jungle was foreign, other; she searched there in the same way she did in her native Iceland, interrogating where the rifts in the material land might give way to some greater essence. “Together,” says Þorgbjörg, “the dense jungle and the barren glacier desert form the same circle,” different options on the same continuum that is landscape. The moving space between Þorbjörg’s and Rilke’s trees is alive with potential, a means of translocation.

              Those Amazonian trees are lush and green, while Helene Garberg’s trees in Mexico’s Yucatán start out so overexposed that they hardly register as such. And so it was that the artist Helene journeyed through a blizzard of lush and white to reach the entrance to the cenote—one of the underground caverns that was said to be the portal into the Mayan underworld—and allowed it to draw her in. The filmic poetry she conjured up out of that cenote sang of alchemy, of liquid rock, of the futility of trying to define one’s sense of scale in regard to the earth. Did Helene draw herself back out again? “If a landscape, as we say, ‘draws us in’ with its seductive beauty,” writes the art historian W. J. T. Mitchell on the nature of landscape in Western art, “this movement is inseparable from a retreat to a broader, safer perspective, an aestheticizing distance, a kind of resistance to whatever practical or moral claim the scene might make on us.”iv But no, Helene did not retreat; her aestheticizing was not an act of distancing; she did not withdraw, and those who would watch her poem would be hard pressed to resist the claims the cenote made on them.

                And what of the fourth artist; what distant land did he travel to? The fourth artist, Bjarni Þór Pétursson, went to the farthest place of all: the Land of Real Vulnerability, the most demanding region to access because it is, in fact, far too close. His sets were sparse, his camera slow-panning, if it panned at all; what walked onto the stage, a human dressed as animal, could not have been read as absurd because it was so hard to read at all. It was as if something strange and familiar emerged from the Jungian abyss to claim a new archetype, that of the Watcher Watched, or perhaps the Seer Seen. And when, against all odds, Bjarni captured the abyss and brought it to the other side of the stage, where the audience was supposed to be, the plush theater seats vanished into thin air.

              So it was that it turned out nothing was fixed in Fixed Points. The four artists would part and go their separate ways, but they would be remembered for their confidence in the face of the uncanny, their light touch on subjects sometimes belabored by others. If you should find yourself in Hjalteyri, you might still find remnants of the artists’ veil, for they wove its diaphanous fibers into the frame of the ether itself, ready to be peered through by the curious and the brave.

 

There, that is a story.

 

—Shauna Laurel Jones

 

Kate Lyons, “ ‘Here is a story! Story it is’: How fairytales are told in other tongues,” The Guardian, April 19, 2019 (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/19/here-is-a-story-story-it-is-how-fairytales-are-told-in-other-tongues).

ii   Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, translated by Maria Jolas (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994), p. 61.

iii  Rainer Maria Rilke, cited in The Poetics of Space, p. 201.

iv  W. J. T. Mitchell, Preface to the Second Edition of Landscape and Power, edited by W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), p. viii.

19.10 / 27.10 BRÉF FRÁ FERÐALANGI/ LETTERS FROM A TRAVELLER Nemendur í meistaranám í myndlist í listaháskóla íslands Students of the master's program in fine art at the Iceland Academy of the Arts Prófessor / Professor: Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir Undanfarið þrjú ár hafa nemendur í upphafi meistaranáms í myndlist í Listaháskóla Íslands heimsótt Hjalteyri í viku með það fyrir augum að vinna saman að sýningu í lok dvalarinnar í Verksmiðjunni á Hjalteyri. Verkin eru unnin út frá áhrifum nemenda af nánasta umhverfi staðarins og með tilliti til rýmisins. Áherslan er á samspil náttúru og menningar í berum sölum þessarar fyrrverandi síldarverksmiðju. Kynning á náttúru staðarins og nánasta umhverfi er í forgrunni við skipulagningu á dagskrá sem felur í sér m.a. vettvangsferðir til nálægðra stofnana svo og heimsóknir fræðimanna í Verksmiðjuna. Nemendur nýta sér einnig þá þekkingu sem er á staðnum hjá þeim sem þar starfa m.a. við fræðslu á lífríki í sjónum. Nemendur meistaranáms í myndlist koma viðsvegar að úr veröldinni. Hjalteyri gefur þeim tækifæri til að kynnast hvort öðru, að mynda hóp á sama tíma og þau vinna að myndlist, elda saman, fara í sjóböð og skrafa í heitum potti undir opnum himni í sjávarmálinu. Í sýningarverkefnunum er unnið með ákveðið þema. Með þemanu er verkefninu gefinn ákveðinn rammi, og ákveðið samhengi en innan þess er nóg rými fyrir nemendur til að þróa áfram hugmyndir sýnar og listrænar útfærslur. Í ár er þemað „bréf frá ferðalangi“ (e. letters from a traveller). Sendibréfið sem leið til að deila með öðrum skynhrifum og hugmyndum sem nýr staður eða nýtt umhverfi kallar fram er ævafornt samskiptaform. Með tilkomu stafrænna miðla og nánast altækra möguleika á samskiptum í gegnum netið hefur það þó að vissu leyti verið leyst af hólmi. Þetta kallast á við víðfemari breytingar á því hvernig við skynjum, skiljum og umgöngumst það umhverfi sem við erum í hverju sinni (hvort sem það er efnislegt, sögulegt eða hugmyndafræðilegt) og hvernig og af hverju við deilum því með öðrum. Þetta kallar á endurskoðun á hugmyndum okkar um reynslu, umhverfi, staðsetningu, samhengi og þá ábyrgð sem við berum sem ferðalangar. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ For the past three years, students of the master's program in art at the Iceland Academy of the Arts have visited Hjalteyri for a week, with the intention of working together on an exhibition at the end of their stay in the factory. The works are based on the influence of the local area and in relation to the factory space. The focus is on the interaction of nature and culture in the bare halls of this former herring factory. Professor: Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir

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