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Polar bear encounters in Iceland are likely to take a predictable form: a bear, normally weak and emaciated, is noticed by a regional. Stress ensues the police are referred to as, the media incites a quick hysteria. The bear is shot.
This chaotic cycle, doomed to repeat itself every single couple of yrs, is partly the matter of ‘Visitations’, an exhibition by Icelandic/British creative partnership Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson—a exhibit that acquired them the prestigious Icelandic Visible Arts Award.
“I’ve been explained to by a lot of people today not to say it was a shock,” confides Mark Wilson. “I did truly imagine we may be shortlisted, but Bryndís didn’t at all.”
“I wasn’t even wondering about it,” confirms his associate, Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir. “I never make artwork to get accolades. But at the similar time, I never deny how wonderful it was to acquire it.”
“I did not believe the art scene in Iceland had pretty arrived at this place,” she proceeds. “I felt so delighted that they could award the Art Prize to anything that goes outside of this thought of the Intimate artist.”
“Conflict and paradox”
Mark and Bryndís’s get the job done is about as far eliminated from traditional notions of visible art as could be imagined. Revealed at the Artwork Museum in Akureyri from September 2021 to January 2022, Visitations was the fruits of a 3-yr multidisciplinary investigate project, funded by Rannís, the Icelandic Analysis Fund. Introduced employing a broad selection of media—with online video, pictures, collage, drawings and zoological continues to be building up just some of the unique exhibits—the venture exemplifies the creative practice of Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson, which they have been acquiring in excess of the earlier 20 decades.
“Sometimes individuals believe we make perform about animals, but we don’t—we make function about weird human conduct,” clarifies Mark. “We use a particular animal and the interface that human beings have with that animal to investigate different interests, and generally to reveal a deficiency of consensus conflict and paradox.”
A individual relationship
Mark and Bryndís have been producing work jointly because 1999, and polar bears—or rather, the bizarre human behaviours connected with them—have regularly been the concentrate of their creative exploration.
“It commenced from a pretty own standpoint,” claims Bryndís. “It experienced to do with my name—Snæbjörnsdóttir [‘snow bear’s daughter’, in English]. I lived in Scotland for many a long time, and I was rather persistent that people would be in a position to say my surname. I don’t know why, but it grew to become vastly important for me.”
Photograph by Daniel Starrason
Photo by Daniel Starrason
A transformational second arrived when Bryndís frequented a museum shop home in Scotland, and was confronted by the sight of hundreds of stuffed animals of each and every variety. The expertise, she claims, “activated this deep sensation of some kind of loss. You know—what have we carried out? What are we undertaking?”
The unsettling incident supplied unforeseen momentum and assisted to crystallise the technique Bryndís wished to choose with her practice. The pair quickly completed their initially challenge, ‘nanoq: flat out and bluesome’: an artists’ survey of taxidermy polar bears in Scotland.
This initially collaborative work verified not only the pair’s enduring fascination in polar bear activities, but also their want to include associates from outside the house the inventive sphere, an element of their apply that has remained a steady thread in the course of their many tasks. From historians, folklorists and zoologists, to farmers, pet entrepreneurs and hunters, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson see collaboration as an necessary portion of their function.
“This issue about ‘the artist, the genius’… I often felt like this was total nonsense—and I still do, mainly,” Bryndís suggests, waving her arms dismissively. “Art is about bringing people today jointly.”
“It’s about generating not likely connections on every amount,” agrees Mark. “We operate a great deal with other disciplines, and we communicate a ton about the importance of that.”
Sick-fated website visitors
For Visitations, the artists focussed their do the job all around two polar bear arrivals to Iceland in 2008. The two ‘vagrants’—as non-native website visitors are known—both came ashore on the North coastline of Iceland, inside of months of each and every other. Equally were shot and killed, though there was serious discussion of trying to tranquillise the second just one.
“How do you deal with a stranger, when the stranger constitutes a menace?”
In a macabre twist of fate, Bryndís had the bizarre experience of encountering this individual bear twice: at the time living, and all over again just after its death. She was ready to accompany the press to see it, managing hungry and fearful, across the wild expanses of Skagafjördur. The next experience came when she and Mark had been conducting study at The Icelandic Institute of Pure Historical past. It was in this article that they found out that lots of of the skeletons of bears killed in Iceland are stored for scientific needs.
“On a person of our to start with visits there, they just lent us the bones of that unique bear.” Bryndís states, almost incredulously, as if she however just can’t quite imagine these kinds of a issue took spot.
“Again, you have these variety of moments,” she continues. “You’re driving your motor vehicle and in the back of the vehicle are the bones of the bear that you noticed living. It’s tough to permit it go it haunts you.”
The plan of the stranger
This elaborate thought of a haunting, of a romantic relationship with a species that is mediated by a heady blend of folklore and panic, sorts the basis of Visitations. The bones that Bryndís and Mark drove home that day were being also an show in the clearly show not wired alongside one another and shown as in museums, as if they continue to inhabited the ghostly type of an absent animal, but in a stacked heap in a box. An indeniable container of evidence of what took place when a bear fulfilled a man.
“More abstractly, we’re seeking at the thought of the stranger, and the thought of hospitality” claims Mark. “How do you deal with a stranger, when the stranger constitutes a threat? Since of course, traditionally, there is only been just one respond to to that question.”
‘Visitations: Polar Bears out of Place’ took put at Akureyri Art Museum from 25.09.2021 – 09.01.2022, and was curated by Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir. Learn extra at visitations.lhi.is