photographic documentation by Vigfús Birgisson
Vanishing Point: Where Species Meet (2011/19) St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Haymarket, Edinburgh.
Despite the original site-specific setting on the Gothenburg waterfront, our ambition has always been to show this work in an ecclesiastical context. In some small but significant way, the work can be construed to reference a well-known biblical miracle narrative in which generosity and sharing are key. But strategically, rather than situating it entirely in human terms, it carries the idea across and between species. (see Project: Vanishing Point)
photographic documentation by Daniel Starrason
Visitations: Polar Bears Out of Place
In 2019, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson received major funding from Rannís, the Icelandic Research Fund, for a 3-Year project 2019-2022. The project will conclude with two major solo exhibitions in Akureyri Museum of Art (September – January 2021) and Anchorage Museum (October 2022 – September 2023)
Please enter here: http://visitations.lhi.is
In January 2019, Mark Wilson PhD, artist and Professor at the University of Cumbria, UK and Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir PhD, artist, Professor and MA programme director at the Department of Fine Art, Iceland University of the Arts, received a 42 million ISK (268,000GBP) grant from Rannís, the Icelandic Research Fund for a three-year research project Visitations: Polar Bears out of Place.
In the context of global warming and sea-level rise, ‘Visitations’ takes specific historic and contemporary polar bear arrivals to the coasts of Iceland as a point from which to consider more widely, issues of population displacement, hospitality and increasingly excited global migration patterns. Approaching the subject from a contemporary art perspective, in a cross-disciplinary collaboration with folklorists, anthropologists and an international art curator, the project probes intimate and geo-political contact zones, between humans and others and thereby, related networked effects of climate change, population displacement and environmental disruption The research will gather and combine images, texts, audio, biological and other material relating to specific recorded polar bear arrivals. Methodologies will involve a close study of the relationship between source material and its cultural and environmental contexts as well as to the transmission, interpretation and presentation of subtexts embedded within all visual and textual matter. The project has a number of satellite partner institutions, both locally and abroad, allowing for further comparative study within a wider cultural context, and will conclude in two major museum exhibitions, an international conference and a publication encapsulating the project as a whole.
Collaborators are from the University of Iceland´s programme in Folkloristics, Kristinn Schram and in Art History, Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir, as well as its Research Centre in Strandir, the Akureyri Art Museum and the Anchorage Museum in Alaska.
Of the 198 applications submitted to the IRF for this year, 16%, or 31 projects received support. The project is hosted by the Iceland University of the Arts. This is the first time a research project within the field of arts practice has received support from the Icelandic Research Fund.
The Only Show in Town
Leeds Beckett talk
For the last twenty years, the collaborative artist team, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson, have been practicing and producing in the field of contemporary art on an international stage with projects and exhibitions in the UK, Europe, Australia, and the USA. They have built a reputation, resonant in many fields – in contemporary art, animal studies, human geography, museology, the environmental sciences and more. In this respect, it has been their strategic intent to drive the idea that contemporary art is a significant voice, made possible by the application of unique blends of original methods and cross-disciplinary appropriation.
Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson’s artwork is multidisciplinary in nature, most usually taking the form of installation, involving anything from sculptural interventions, found objects and materials, video, audio, drawing, photography and texts. Notwithstanding their participation in International Biennales and major gallery shows, their adherence to the significance and advantage of site-specificity have often led them strategically to exhibit in some tiny and otherwise most obscure venues.
The production of their work is unashamedly driven and facilitated by intensive research and interdisciplinary associations, because as artists they consider art to be both the most promising platform and the most likely instrument by which the fusion and mutual complication or disturbance of traditionally discrete knowledge-fields will succeed in effecting significant and increasingly urgent cultural and behavioural change.
And change is the only show in town…
So, the lecture will examine what it means in the context of crisis, (e.g. extinction, the Anthropocene), to consider and practice art as a tool of disruption and mediation, how passivity is a weapon and how complex cross-disciplinary relationships can effectively and otherwise, be productively managed.
As a consequence of their approach, through many projects, the artists have invested and directed their energies towards alliances and conversations across multiple fields in exhibitions, associated seminars and international conferences. For them, every exhibition made, is a provocation of sorts and is used to create opportunities for extending discourse, often between people who would otherwise rarely, if ever, engage. Over this time and as a consequence, they have exhibited and otherwise continue to be involved with many other internationally significant artists and theorists across the world.
Now, in 2018, they continue to develop ongoing projects in Rhode Island (at the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown) and in Alaska (the Anchorage Museum).
The Mariner’s Oubliette was filmed in the North Slope Borough in Alaska where human and other animal interests of many kinds intersect. With oil interests to the West and the conservation area to the east, such interests coalesce within a crucible of environmental contention.
The Bowhead whale is an important animal to the Inupiaq people and skeletal remains can be found scattered around Barrow and Kaktovik. Polar bears in the area depend on leftover whaling carcasses on the shore from hunting trips for food. There is symbiosis between culture and nature – a sort of magic, which this video work seeks to capture through an abstraction of imagery and sound.
The ‘oubliette’ is a name associated with forgetting. In medieval times, it signified a dungeon with the only entrance or exit being a trap door in the ceiling.
Snæbjörnsdóttir Wilson have recently installed a new work, a 14 metre tapestry, Searching for Stipa. The tapestry shows the complex structures of a grass seed Stipa pennata. During research for the project Beyond Plant Blindness, under the supervision of the artists Bryndís and Mark, a scanning electron microscope at Chalmers University of Technology was used to image the seed awn in twenty-nine highly detailed sections. The artists then meticulously assembled the scans as one image, using Photoshop software. From this single file, the tapestry was woven in wool, in Norway, by Kristina Aas.
It was installed in Hus B, Pedagogen, University of Gothenburg on 15-08-2018.