June 11, 2015 - Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art - Katrín Sigurðardóttir
June 11, 2015

Katrín Sigurðardóttir

Prototype model of Supra Terram. Courtesy of the artist and Parasol unit.

Katrín Sigurðardóttir
Supra Terram

12 June–8 August 2015

Preview: Thursday 11 June, 6:30–9pm

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
14 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10am–6pm,
Sunday noon–5pm
Free admission

T + 44 (0) 20 7490 7373
info [​at​] parasol-unit.org


Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is delighted to present Katrín Sigurðardóttir: Supra Terram, the Icelandic artist’s first major exhibition in a public London institution.

The Latin term “supra terram” refers to the act of going above ground, in this instance from a subterranean cavity. The work is the artist’s response to the two floors of exhibition space at Parasol unit, where the structure seems to intersect the usually impenetrable barrier of the ceiling/floor. The work obliges visitors to view the larger part of the piece in the lower gallery before making their way to the upper gallery to fully realise and mentally unify the two parts of the sculpture. A disorienting shift in scale and perception occurs as one moves from being somewhat overwhelmed by the cavernous structure in the lower gallery to being in a position to look down at the tip of it emerging through the floor of the upper gallery.

Although influenced by the artist’s fascination with folly architecture, Supra Terram is a development of Sigurðardóttir’s continuing interest in the dichotomies of perception present in most areas of life. Such binaries have been at the core of most of her works, from Boiserie, 2010–11, an installation she created for an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to Foundation, 2013, which she built for the Icelandic pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale.

Structurally, Supra Terram was developed using three different materials: a rigid wooden frame to support the entire structure, covered with a wire mesh form that in turn supports its skin of paper pulp. The structure is built in a gallery where natural light can filter into the cavity space throughout the day, permeating the paper membrane and giving the work a lightness that contradicts its apparent mass. This ghostly, ethereal piece exists more as a thought than a real space—a transient rendering of a dislocated place.

A ubiquitous feature in both art and literature, especially those of Greek and Roman mythology, a cave or grotto is often portrayed as a universe or an ambiguous place that lends itself to repose or is seen as a sanctuary with symbolic and mystical connotations. Yet, at the same time, such structures doubled up as dwellings, featured as theatrical backdrops, or were used for other forms of public recreation, all of which disturb our generally held concepts of private and public space. Such double-edged aspects are apparent in most of Katrín Sigurðardóttir’s installations: one part illusionistic surface, the other the physical reality of its construction. Through building fictional architecture, the artist explores the effects of physical structures and boundaries of perceived reality, using the language of architecture and sculpture to raise profound philosophical questions.

This exhibition, curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder/Director of Parasol unit, is accompanied by a unique limited edition print.

Parasol unit appreciates the kind and generous support of Creative Capital, Ingunn Wernersdóttir, the Icelandic Art Center and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Iceland.

Related events:

Talk: architect and curator Aurélien Lemonier
Wednesday 24 June, 7pm

Aurélien Lemonier is an architect and has been a curator in the Department of Architecture at the Centre Pompidou in Paris since 2008. In this lecture, he will examine the history of grottos in architecture and garden design. In relation to Katrin Sigurdardottir’s work, Supra Terram, he will contextualise the highly symbolical motif of the grotto as an artificial, man-made space that imitates natural form. 

Talk: On Follies with writer and curator Tom Morton
Monday 29 June, 7pm

In this talk, writer, independent curator and contributing editor for frieze magazine Tom Morton, will lead a discussion on fantastical architecture—follies, grottos, useless buildings and their contemporary descendants—in relation to Katrín Sigurðardóttir’s Supra Terram.

For more information please contact Kirsteen Cairns:
kirsteen [​at​] parasol-unit.org / T +44 (0) 20 7490 7373 ext. 26

Katrín Sigurðardóttir at Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art
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