Mannréttindi og Samfélag
Hildarleikur / Game of War 2018
Endur-Fundir / Re-Union solo exhibition
Venue: Hlöðuloftið, Korpúlfsstaðir Art Center, Reykjavík, 2018
Leikföngin hér eru smækkaðir tákngervingar hluta úr fullorðinsheimi. Í leikjum sviðsetja saklaus börn tilveru sína og hugrenningar.
Bernska – Sáttmáli / Childhood – Convention (2018)
performance; Venue: The Living Art Museum, Reykjavík
The performance consists of several children and adults reciting texts, unsynchronized. The children recited from an old Icelandic children’s fairy tale “Dimmalimm”, while the adults recited the United Nations “Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
Performed by children and members of the Nýlókórinn/Íslenski hljóðljóðakórinn (The Icelandic Sound Poetry Choir) conducted by Pétur Eggertsson.
Performers - children: Úlfur Ásgeirsson, Guðný Salvör Hannesdóttir, Hulda Guðbjörg Hannesdóttir, dóttir Péturs stjórnanda, og ungur drengur.
Members of the Nýlókórinn/Íslenski hljóðljóðakórinn /The Icelandic Sound Poetry Choir (Þorgils Baldursson, Gísli Fannberg, Inga Jónsdóttir, Magnea Ásmundsdóttir, Hafdís Helgadóttir and Pauliina Jokela) and Rúrí.
Sky Gyre (2017)
By Pari Stave
The Icelandic artist Anna Eyjólfsdóttir uses found objects as her raw material. Her installation Sky Gyre, 2017, is composed of two massive nets suspended from the ceiling. The effect immediately conjures the history of the Hjalteyri factory and its demise. One of the nets contains discarded toys (brightly colored plastic furniture, games, dollhouses, and dolls); the other holds a heavy load of old clothes, shoes, boots, and life vests. Walking around and underneath this strange catch, the viewer is filled with a sense of foreboding as the weight of the nets literally hangs by a thread, threatening to come crashing down. There is profound sadness in the work, too, as one considers that each toy and article of clothing was once something held close by its owner.
Iceland in the 1950s, during Eyjólfsdóttir’s childhood and adolescence, was not a time of excessive consumption. “We had nothing,” she recalls, “but we used our imagination.” For her, the “glorious dream” of mass production and the cultural sameness it brings is a delicate equation of want versus need, an imbalance between those with enough access to goods to be waste-ful, and those living in desperate conditions. The work’s title references the idea of waste on a global scale, in particular the discarded plastics that pollute the world’s oceans, much of which is accumulating in a vast area in the southern hemisphere known as the Pacific Gyre.
Likewise, Eyjólfsdóttir’s video installation Brot-Sjór / Broken Sea, 2017, refers to the fragility of life and natural resources. Images of waves shot outside the factory are projected onto the side of the room and reflect off a circular arrangement of shattered glass. The skeletal form of a boat is placed at the center of the installation, a reference to the biblical ark, a conveyance symbolizing the survival of all species.
Pari Stave is an an American art historian and indipendent curator.
From the catalogue of the exhibtion Hverfing | Shapeshifting,
published by the Academy of the Senses, Reykjavík, 2018
Tread Softly (2016)
einkasýning í gallery Art on Armitage, í Chicago, USA
Art on Armitage var eitt elsta listamannarekna gallerí Chicago borgar í starfsaldri talið, en myndlistarmaðurinn og activistinn Mary Ellen Croteau, stofnaði og stjórnaði galleríinu.
Það var til húsa í hverfi borgarinnar þar sem glæpatíðna er mjög há, en þar er einnig starfræktur herskóli fyrir upprennandi hermenn, nýliða á unglingsaldri sem fæstir hafa haft tök á að mennta sig.
Big Laundry (2014)
Performance by Anna Eyjólfsdóttir, Ragnhildur Stefánsdóttir, Þórdís Alda Sigurðardóttir, Þuríður Sigurðardóttir
Venue: Laundry, Performance Festival, 12-14.09.2014
Galeria Miejska bwa, and city space Bydgoszczy, Poland
The tradition of neighbours doing their laundry together in public isn’t an exclusively Polish one. Residents of Reykjavik used to come to a place some 3 km away from the city and washed their „dirty laundry” in the open air, in a pond created by the waters of hot springs. This time, the artists from Poland and Iceland will meet on the Mill Island and use their artistic activities to relate to the neighbourly washing that used to take place in the past on the banks of the Młynówka.The process of producing an identity is based on the presence of places with special memories, and also on interactions in those places and ritualising everyday existence in a way appropriate for a given culture. Due to the presence of those symbolic places, space is a testament of a given region and gives an identity to an individual. The tradition of neighbours doing their laundry together in public isn’t an exclusively Polish one. Residents of Reykjavik used to come to a place dominated by women, some 3 km away from the city, and „washed their dirty laundry” in the open air. Until the electric lighting for buildings was invented, doing laundry was a kind of an expedition. Then, during World War II, Icelandic women washed their occupiers’ „old rags”. In Poland after World War II, the tradition of common washing also helped in maintaining contacts between people; the accompanying rumours, chants and discussions built a sense of community. Nowadays, washing is becoming more automated, it no longer has the characteristics of the old ritual, and this process is even faster in urban life.The proposals of the artists who were invited to the project, referring to the tradition of the common neighbourly washing and by reference to the history of the place and its rituals, will become an excuse for re-strengthening of interpersonal relationships, building a sense of community and identity.Once again, we ask the question about the role of artistic activities. To what extent is this still the ability to create, and to what extent a role that has to be played by art? What issues does it communicate today? Does the language attempting to describe its meaning bring new senses or is it limiting? And what, finally, comes from an artistic intervention into a public space, in what way does it change the people involved and does it change them at all?. What may the saying „washing dirty linen” mean, which refers to the concepts common in the Western culture, at the same time inducing the effect of negation, hostility or even disgust towards phenomena so designated. We’re attempting to „remove stains” from the city; will it helping emotional cleansing?
Hlið við hlið / Side by Side (2014)
Snertipunktar / Points of Contact
Venue: LÁ Art Museum, Hveragerði
The installation is a dedication to female labour workers in the fish industry in Iceland
Material; rubber aprons, rubber boots, rubber gloves, head scarfes, wood, metal.
Blue Velvet - Animal Farm (2012)
By Jón Proppé, artphilosopher and curator
A society of sheep, inhabiting a surreal world of golden objects and dwellings. A mythical land that nonetheless echoes our own. Like the sheep in this sculptural installation, we seem blind to our destiny, forever distracted by our possessions and our preoccupations. We dream of a land of plenty – like the land of Cockaigne in medieval myth, where roasted pigs walk about with knives in the back and the wine always flows freely, as in the painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
The work is a meditation on the state of our society, brought into focus by the current economic and political troubles. In Iceland, as in most of the Western world, these were preceded by a period of profligacy and frantic acquisitiveness, a cult of material wealth that many people seem unwilling or unable to abandon. Meanwhile, members of the political class preen in the tawdry palaces of power and the rich continue in their fantasy of easy wealth. It is a strong spell and we fritter our lives away on useless pursuits, all the while believing in the importance and completeness of our world of gilt things and blue velvet.
A land of myth and childish fancy seems the perfect reflection of the current state of our society as, like sheep, we wander aimlessly, slaves to our primitive appetites and pointless greed. In this grotesque world we can all too easily see our own reflection.
Blue Velvet - Animal Farm 2012
Material; glazed ceramic figurines, found objects/toys, varnish, velvet, metal.
Venue: Chronotopology, Arka Gallery, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012
Fullkomin staða / Perfect Order (2009)
Material: found objects.
Venue: Laugavegurinn, StartArt Gallery, Reykjavík
Double Throne (2009)
Material: wood, galvanized bath tube, laundry bundles, clay figurine of a woman.
Venue: Laugavegurinn / The Washer Women Road, StartArt Gallery, Reykjavík, Iceland
Black and White (2008)
An installation in two parts arranged in spaces that are closed off from the audience. The audience can only access the work through a peeping hole on the walls around each room.
Venue: Heima / Home, StartArt Gallery, Reykjavík
Kraftur / Power - Another Aspect (2006)
venue: Mega Vott, Hafnarborg Cultural Center, Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Sounds in a multi-voiced world
By Harpa Þórsdóttir
Life is an inexhaustible source of material for creation,and the ideals of humans and their fighting spirit can become the power behind zealous work and great output. The works of Anna Eyjólfsdóttir hold the traits of sharp righteous thought in the community we live in. Anna has her own sound in a multi-voiced world.
In Harmony (1994), a story is told simply but effectively on the development and progress of the Icelandic society in the 20th century. The aprons of women working in the fishing industry are hung up and from loudspeakers we hear the sound of voices and machines from a freezing plant. The aprons form a circle outside like a tower of flags. They blow with the wind and from the presentation of the work you can distinguish the pride of the women who for a short while were the foundation of the fishing industry in Iceland. Women have always worked in this industry, an industry with jobs that people scorn nowadays. This work reminds us of who we are and from where we come. It bears no negative connotations. Anna has in further works continued with similar references.
At the exhibition The Emperor’s New Clothes at the Living Art Museum she exhibited All is not what it seems where she published the predictions of a well-known fortune teller on 12 women artists. This was Anna’s way of showing that the woman working at a fish factory is equal to the woman artist, and that both lines of work are serious. Their jobs are dignified and equal to other jobs in society. Anna uses unusual materials for her work and often features what we don’t notice anymore or those things that have lost their meaning through the passage of time. In one of her works she places plungers next to discarded chewing gum on the pavement in front of the exhibition hall (Gerðuberg, 2000). In this way she brings attention to this common and dirty habit on city pavements and creates a message on necessary respect for our environment.
Shouldn’t we start with the simplest things, ourselves, before we start to make the world a better place?
Another example of material use is from the exhibition Öðrum þræði (Another Thread) in Gerðarsafn Museum in 1994 where only wire coat hangers are used. The works differed in many ways, from being studies in patterns found in traditional Icelandic artwork to variations of different forms. In these works she uses the form of the coat hanger to work with.
The coat hanger as such has no meaning in the work, it is just a base material. The wire works also show how she searches for material. She uses things that she has been collecting for a long time. In this context one can name glass and clay objects, which she has used in several works (for example at Laugarvatn 2005 and Korpúlfsstaðir 2006).
The outdoor work Signalling Flags (2000) was at the exhibition of the Icelandic Sculptors Association called Strandlengjan (The Coastline) and spoke to the ocean in a literal sense. The flags she put up in the work are international ship flags and in them one can read the words “Strandlengjan 2000”. In this work the artist communicates art to the ranks of sailors and fishermen in their own language. One can ponder the question of man’s accessibility to contemporary art and what kind of communication tool art really is when looking at this work, which also tackles how one thing can be accessible to one person but alien to another.
It’s quite possible that Anna’s largest work to date, outdoor work Paradeisos/ Intra muros, exhibited at the Reykjavík Art Museum-Harbour House at the birthday exhibition of the Icelandic Sculptors Association in 2002, testifies to the artist’s positive attitude towards life. Art history includes works from various times where artists have been dealing with an idealistic paradise, a place where birds sing and men and nature live together in peace and harmony. But in Anna’s work there is a certain irony, which is
outdoors but still within walls. It bears references to a number of things, and Anna has said that she
is honouring the memory of the workers who once worked in the courtyard of the Harbour House as well as the house itself. This work is therefore a memorial and at the same time a reminder of opposites. Can nature thrive within walls, within manmade cities and landscapes? Many of Anna’s works are on the topic of the environment, such as Voyage II (1995), Figurehead (1997) and Ey-var, a large wooden pole set up at an exhibition at the Living Art Museum in 1995.
The work is one of two of her works at the exhibition where nature’s cycle is the subject. At the top of
the pole was a bowl-like dent, filled with birch tree seeds, therefore the pole became the beginning of
a natural cycle. Birds would arrive, eat the seeds and later disperse them. A strong political conscience is apparent in many of Anna’s works and at the exhibition Political Thinking at the ASÍ Art Museum in 2001 she exhibited works that featured the ten years of Davíð Oddsson’s seat as prime minister.
Political works have not been common in Icelandic art but here was an exhibition where the artist decided to feature, in a symbolic manner, the political interest in culture, or lack of, rather. The aggressive question asked here is whether it matters at all who is in power, and what they leave behind.
There is a serious undertone to the works Anna exhibited at the Figment of Love exhibition at Reykjavik
Art Museum-Kjarvalsstaðir in 2004. The works were manifold but as the subtitle reveals it tackles “love, pain and petty private investigations.” Most of the works were made from a child’s standpoint, using children’s toys, readings from fairy tales and sculptures pointing to fairy tales.
The artist’s fantasy world in the making of this exhibition was established on her view that life is a play and that we are all willing participants. It was her personal showdown with her childhood memories.
One of the works was a cupboard with shelves, each containing one memory.
Each shelf portrayed a scene from her childhood with small, naïve figurines and furniture. Iconography
featuring children often touches a nerve as the meaning can become ambiguous. Photographs on a wall printed on plaster of Paris sheets and wrapped in gauze showed people in various poses, reminding us that wounds can be tended to and healed.
As previously stated, Anna’s work often recounts her own experiences and results of different behaviour
from moralistic, social and political premises. One of Anna’s latest works that combines this train of thought is Thinking for Sink (2006), a large porcelain sink placed on table legs, full of dishes. The sink is a strong symbol for the home and the regular rituals associated with it. Anna’s works often carry a message to conquer apathy and tepidity, wherever these traits may come from.
Harpa Þórsdóttir - art historian, and museum director of National Gallery of Iceland.
From the book Mega Vott, published by Taragrúpp / Academy of the Senses, Iceland.
ÓRAR / FIGMENTS (2004)
ÓRAR um ást, kvöl og smásmugulegar einkalífsrannsóknir
/ FIGMENTS of Love, torment and Fastidious Research into Private Lives
Extract from Órar / Figments, published by The Reykjavík Art Museum, written by Sigríður Þorgeirsdóttir:
"The works of Anna Eyjólfsdóttir are somewhat more gruesome, at least upon closer inspection. At first glance they appear innocent. Life is a harmless game, a fairy tale that ends well. Paradise. Gold, velvet of royal blue, a red apple. A prince and princess. The swan in Anna’s story reminds one of the most innocent of all innocent Icelandic fairy tales, the story of Dimmalimm, by Muggur.
In Muggur’s illustrations that accompany the story, the king and queen who sit crowned upon their thrones at the end of it are still small children. Their feet do not touch the ground. The pictures tell their own story. Are the prince and princess not able to grow up - or do they not wish to? Does this reflect Muggur’s own inner desire not to become an adult, even if he did release the prince from the spell of being a swan? Dimmalimm plays with the swan. It is everything to her. Yet one day when she comes to find it, it is gone. The only sign that it existed is the discarded swan’s body. This is the story’s terrifying moment.
One can spin many stories from the references and symbols found in the tale of Dimmalimm and the swan. A swan is white and beautiful but can also be aggressive. Zeus/Jupiter transformed himself into a swan when he flew off to rape Leda. In Anna’s work there is also an overgrown, huge, velvet testicle of royal blue. Comforting, soft, beautiful, tempting - an irregularly shaped sack. It can be soft or hard. Like the desire for love, that can change from gentleness into cruelty.
The picture-book story of Dimmalimm can easily evoke imaginings of obsession, love, violence and abuse. The prince and princess are dolls, children that can never grow up. Sexual abuse of children can destroy childhood while trapping the child there, tangling it up in bonds from which it cannot be released. There is death in the doll’s expression. Screaming, terrifying silence. Art can listen for that silence, can be vigilant enough to hear it. It can place a silent picture of what is bent and broken behind glass. Remember it in silence. Become outraged. Then scream “VIOLENCE!” with all its might, so loud that the glass explodes. Drive everyone crazy. Art is the outrage that is needed to break the glass so that misery can be redeemed."
Sigríður Þorgeirsdóttir is a philosopher, professor in Philosophy at the Universitty of Iceland.
Leyndar sögur / Hidden Stories (2004-2008)
Artist’s Book, sample pages
Merkjafánar / Signal Flags (2000)
Venue: The Coastline, Reykjavík Arts Festival 2000. The flags spell “Coastline 2000”
The outdoor work Signalling Flags (2000) was installed at the exhibition of the Reykjavik Sculptor’s Association titled Strandlengjan (The Coastline) and spoke to the ocean in a literal sense. The flags she put up in the work are international ship flags and in them one can read the words “Strandlengjan 2000”.
In this work the artist communicates art to the ranks of sailors and fishermen in their own language. One can ponder the question of man’s accessibility to contemporary art and what kind of communication tool art really is when looking at this work, which also tackles how one thing can be accessible to one person but alien to another.
Harpa Þórsdóttir art historian, and museum director of National Gallery of Iceland. From the book Mega Vott, published by Taragrúpp / Academy of the Senses, Iceland
Samhljómur / Harmony (1994)
The installation “Harmony” from 1994 reflects on industrial development and advancements of the Icelandic society in the 20th century. The material part of the installation consists of rubber aprons suspended from a steel structure resembling an oval conveyor belt. An audio is played from loudspeakers.
The aprons are the ones used by women working on conveyor belts in fish factories. The audio is a recording
from the workroom of a fish factory in Reykjavík.
The voices of the female workers discussing their daily life, joys and sorrows mix with the humming and rattle of the machine assemblies of the factory workroom.
Venue: Sculpture - Sculpture - Sculpture, Reykjavík Art Museum