Who are you?
Ólöf Björk Ingólfsdóttir
Where are you?
Im in Vienna for the moment. Heading back to Reykjavik in a month or so.
What are you researching/interested in?
Thinking about this question will give me an existential crisis while answering it! No, I’m asking myself existential questions; I’m interested in what people do to survive. We always surround ourselves with objects and things which we give meaning to so we can make some narrative in our lives. You can see this with hoarders especially, this is an extreme case but actually all of us have this within us somewhere. For example, why is a sheet of paper so important to me? Because I have lubricated it with some meaning and this makes me less anxious, therefore my life has meaning. I think about these meanings and narratives in terms of sculpture. I’m interested in the value of objects, especially now as we are in this discussion of global warming and have a bad conscience about being consumers of objects.
What is your work (specific or general) trying to say?
I try to avoid my work saying something specific, or from giving a clear reading but of course I want it to touch on certain subjects. I have a reason for everything I put into the work and it develops with a clear reasoning in my mind, however I’m aware that its not possible that all this gets through to the viewer. At first it stressed me out, but I think that this might be what makes it interesting. So yes, I want the meanings to be obscured.
Who is your work for?
You know I was asked this question by a teacher last semester. I think I told him that my artwork is
just for myself and I had this dream that I was some kind of a monk on a column; just making art for myself, without it being about myself or putting myself at the forefront. On the other side, I’m afraid that my work might be for a narrow group of people or an elitist group. I often cite very specific references in art history for example, that only a few people will be able to read from the work. Although I suppose it is inevitable that this will happen as I read, research and make at the same time. My Mum and Dad will come to an art show and ask ‘What does this mean?’ Well maybe not my Mum and Dad but everyone asks this question. I don’t like that people feel so insecure when standing in front of an artwork, searching for the right answer. I am thinking about this and trying to avoid it from being asked when people look at my own work.
Can you explain a pivotal artwork of yours?
I would say an artwork I did about a year ago called ‘The Soup Bowl of Emil’, which is a reference to Astrid’s Lindgren ‘Emil i Lönneberga’. This work was a video performance, it opened up the idea of temporary sculpture and allowed me to think about objects in a wider sense. The image of Emil with his head stuck inside a soup bowl was engraved in my memory from early childhood, and this is true for lot of people from Scandinavia especially I assume, since the author is Swedish. I asked myself why this image in my head was not a sculpture. It is a temporary sculpture because as soon as the bowl broke off the boy’s head, it was not a sculpture anymore. The same goes for Charles Ray’s Plank Pieces from 1973.
Can you give one piece of advice?
To think while working. Not sitting at a table with a pencil and paper, consciously thinking. I work a lot with clay, working with materials is a good way to get ideas and think but the material can also tell you what to do next. I have to remind myself that what’s important is making, not necessarily producing completed artworks.
Which exhibition have you liked recently?
The exhibition ‘Two Comrades’ which was the last exhibition on in the museum I am working in, Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum. It is dedicated to a pioneering artist in the field of modernist sculpture in Iceland. This particular exhibition had works by him and a contemporary of his, Asger Jorn. I liked it because it gave me a different perspective on Sigurjón’s work. I had the opportunity to spend so much time with the sculptures in a calm environment, since not so many people visit the museum. I saw these inherently passive sculptures in a new light. I was sitting at a desk in the space for a few hours a day, facing The Animal from 1947. I looked at it, got up for a cup of coffee, stared at it and made a quick sketch before I stood up for another cup of coffee, then I would draw it another time before the cycle would start again.
I am planning to have a one night exhibition/event at the rooftop of the apartment that I’m living in now. Gustav Klimt is buried in my backyard so to say (not in my actual backyard, but a graveyard that’s very close by). I want to invite people to take a look at his gravestone through binoculars from my rooftop and I will be howling something somewhere in the background. This will be in three weeks time or so, before I head back to Reykjavík.
Can you recommend three artist’s to look at?
Hmm. There is an Icelandic saying ‘Hverjum þykir sinn fugl fagur’ I don’t know if you have it in English? “Everyone finds his own bird beautiful”. In other words, I will try to be neutral and say Arnar Ásgeirsson, Korkimon and mmm… Kjartan… maybe I will skip this thing earlier about the birds and say him. I really like his art, he does photography