Traces of Water

Summer Exhibition 2016

Hafnarborg’s summer exhibition is a group show of six artists that all work with some form of water in their works where color, water and its evaporation is among subjects.

The artists that have pieces in the exhibition are; Anna Rún Tryggvadóttir, Florence Lam, Harpa Árnadóttir, Hulda Stefánsdóttir, John Zurier and Margrét H. Blöndal.

Curators are Ágústa Kristófersdóttir and Birgir Snæbjörn Birgisson.



Thoughts immersed in water

You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed. People may not notice at the time, but that doesn’t matter. The world has been changed nonetheless.

Julian Barnes, Levels of Life, p. 3, Vintage 2014

Our desire for a better life and a newer, even more beautiful world, is strong. In our search for perfection, we must tread a careful line, ensuring we don’t slip up and tumble. Outside of ourselves and our lived experiences, in which we delight and so keep with us in the form of memories, where do we look for a better life? Memories make us the unique individuals we are. They shape our own creativity and our ability to be receptive to that which is created.

Immersing something in water can be understood in one of two ways. The first interpretation is that of something percolating or steeping; thoughts, for example. Another interpretation is that of rescuing something—a stained tablecloth, say—which must be left to soak for a while until the salvage operation can begin.

The title of this article refers to the immersion of thoughts and ideas in water. After being carried by the liquid over pre-determined surfaces and channels until the stream dries up, representations and suggestions of thoughts, dreams and circumstance are left behind. Is the flow permanent? Will it cease when the water no longer flows freely? Does the work of art and the individual observer’s own stream of consciousness then take over? Once started, can the stream be dammed? Or the moment frozen?

Is something else, something more immersed when water flows, over a given surface or space, finding its way unhesitantly until equilibrium is reached? When does consciousness come into existence? When does a thought take on form and determine its channel? Does the image first appear when the stream begins to flow, or when the observers cast their gaze upon the work, pondering in it their own reality?

The artists participating in this project are Anna Rún Tryggvadóttir, Florence Lam, Harpa Árnadóttir, Hulda Stefánsdóttir, John Zurier and Margrét H. Blöndal. The group formed sort of spontaneously – flowed together during the curators discourse upon the matter. The works of the Icelandic artists, Anna, Harpa, Hulda and Margrét, have never before been exhibited together, nor in this context. Florence Lam is born in Canada and is currently studying towards her masters at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. John Zurier resides in California. Having been captivated by Iceland a few years ago, he is now a frequent visitor.

All the artists share the common experience of channeling their creation through some sort of expression of flow, and employ various media to that end. The beauty and perfection realized in their works is founded on the synthesis and metamorphosis of the materials as they are pitted one against the other. Effortlessness, a certain mildness and a different understanding of time comes into being; the world has, in essence, changed.

Consequently, we steadfastly maintain that our doings reflect in some way our thoughts. It is diverting to explore whether the same applies to the experience, that it might manage to influence the thoughts, and thereby the actions, of those of us who enjoy the works.

Flow and the search for perfection were to a great extent the inspiration for this exhibition concept. We are invited to forget ourselves for a while in our comforting thoughts and emotions, and the works of those creative artists that have assembled here. We thank the artists for their guidance, thoughts and dreams. May their works explain to us what creation entails, is it the water and the trace left behind, or perhaps both of these elements, along with our participation, that makes the world slightly more beautiful for a while?

Berlin, Easter 2016

Birgir Snæbjörn Birgisson