If Iceland were ever a marginal player in the art world, its pavilion at Venice‘s Arsenale is a sign of acceptance into the fold.
In his six-metre vertical and vast floor projection, curated by Mónica Bello, Iceland’s chosen artist Sigurður Guðjónsson creates a dark, otherworldly experience not unlike the landscape of sparkling volcanic rock that characterises so much of Iceland.
But Guðjónsson is well known for conjuring photographic abstractions with familiar machinery and settings that mess with our perception through his unusual focus, framing and depth. Look closely and this material reveals itself to be metal dust, snaking and wriggling into new shapes against a magnetic field. The tension between the materials creates an entirely new entity.
‘The contrast between mechanical movement and organic texture in the material’, says Guðjónsson, is why he has called the exhibition Perpetual Motion. On screen, the dust drifts and pulses, warps and distorts, creating new entities like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption.
Also perpetual is the soundscape piped through the experience: a visceral, vaguely creepy mixtape recorded in collaboration with Icelandic musician Valgeir Sigurðsson. In keeping with the Biennale‘s theme, it all feels slightly surreal, even though the ingredients are known quantities.