12407 - 20170114 - Contemporary Icelandic art reflects on sustainability in exhibition on view at Scandinavia House - New York - 15.10.2016-14.01.2017


Anna Lindal, The Power of Knowledge.

Borrowed Time: Icelandic Artists Look Forward presents the work of contemporary Icelandic artists currently engaged in the global dialogue on sustainability and the issues that surround it. Featuring photography, video, collage, and installation, the exhibition invites viewers to challenge their assumptions and explore new modes of seeing. The exhibition is on view from October 15, 2016 through January 14, 2017 at Scandinavia House in New York City.

Global communities are constantly in flux. As the world’s population continues to grow, artists are increasingly engaging in the international dialogue on sustainability and the intricately-connected, if not overlapping, issues— environmental, economic, cultural, and social—that surround it.

The artworks featured in Borrowed Time reflect on and interrogate the idea of sustainability from a variety of perspectives, with the aim of challenging our understanding of our place in the world and influence on it.

A number of the artists examine the issues of waste and consumption: The Icelandic Love Corporation (ILC), a democratic artist group comprising Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir, Jóní Jónsdóttir, and Eirún Sigurðardóttir, focuses on the social and cultural factors—globalization, pop culture—surrounding sustainability. In the installation Evolution (2010), ILC uses deadstock Nylon pantyhose as both subject matter and medium, highlighting waste and the fabric’s long decomposition timeline. Working in a similar vein, Hrafnkell Sigurðsson photographs swathes of bubblewrap floating in turquoise Icelandic lakes, commenting on the West’s culture of packaging and its contribution to phenomena like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive gyre of marine debris located in the North Pacific Ocean.

Artist Hildur Bjarnadóttir and artistic partners Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson also reflect on culture and sustainability, with a focus on tradition. In the series Giving Back (2007-2009), Bjarnadóttir photographs mittens she has knitted for her grandmother, all crafted with Icelandic wool that is hand-dyed by the artist with pigment derived from her grandmother’s decades-old plants, pointing both to the dominance of synthetic color in the modern world and society’s fading interest in traditional craft. In Untitled (2006-), Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson address the effects of heavy industry on Icelandic culture, photographing themselves outfitted in the Icelandic women’s national costume standing beside the country’s first aluminium plant.

A number of the artists highlight developing environmental crises: In her series of collages entitled You’ve got a face with a view, artist Þorgerður Ólafsdóttir raises questions about the environmental effects of Iceland’s booming tourist industry, while Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir & Mark Wilson, in their video You Must Carry Me Now (Houston) (2014), investigate the tensions between and cooperative efforts of the scientific, public, and corporate stakeholders managing U.S. wilderness.

The exhibition also features work by Kristín Bogadóttir, Bjarki Bragason, Rósa Gísladóttir, Ásthildur B. Jónsdóttir, Anna Líndal, Ólöf Nordal, and Pétur Thomsen.