Roman Signer, Zwei Schirme (Two Umbrellas), 2009. Video. Cameraman: Aufdi Aufdermauer/videocompany.ch. © Roman Signer 2009.

June 19, 2013

June 6–October 20, 2013

Opening: Thursday, June 6, 1–5pm

Havremagasinet – Boden Art Center
Norrbottensvägen 18
S-961 36 Boden, Sweden

T +46 (0)921 93041
info [​at​] havremagasinet.se


Birgir Andrésson (IS) / Hrafnhildur Arnardottir (IS) / Hildur Bjarnadóttir (IS) / Margrét H. Blöndal (IS) / Kría Brekkan (IS) / Olafur Eliasson (DK/DE) / Maria Friberg (SE) / Kristján Gudmundsson (IS) / Roni Horn (US) / Joan Jonas (US) / Tumi Magnússon (IS) / Ragna Róbertsdóttir (IS) / Karin Sander (DE) / Roman Signer (CH) / Ívar Valgardsson (IS) / Lawrence Weiner (US)

Curator: Gregory Volk, Assistant Curator: Birta Gudjonsdottir


1. Of, relating to, or being an element.
a. Fundamental or essential; basic.
b. Of or relating to fundamentals; elementary.
c. Constituting an integral part; inborn.
3. Of such character as to resemble a force of nature in power or effect: elemental violence.
In certain occult systems, an inhabitant of one of the four elements, especially any of the beings described by Paracelsus as intermediate in corporeality between humans and spirits.

At the core of Elemental are not only select Icelandic artists, but Iceland altogether, with its special and indeed “elemental” natural forces, including volcanoes, glaciers, seismic activity, powerful rivers and waterfalls, geology, and the immense ocean. Encountering the Icelandic landscape is profound, humbling, and transformative, which Icelanders well know, but which many ardent visitors know as well. Elemental arises from such experiences in Iceland, and recognizes that many excellent Icelandic artists have found fascinating ways of making what is, in effect, a very elemental art. While this work may not be “about” Iceland, Iceland is in the work, and in the consciousness that produced the work: a homeland on the mind that greatly contributes to and energizes each artist’s deep inquiry.

Elemental also recognizes the impact Iceland has had on important international artists, who have been visiting, and at times residing in, the country for years. Roni Horn has been involved with Iceland for basically her whole career, including living in the country part-time and exhibiting her work there, as has Olafur Eliasson, whose parents are Icelandic, but who was born and raised in Copenhagen. Roman Signer is especially attuned to the volcanic landscape and has made numerous of his signature temporary sculptures, or sculptures-as-events, far out in nature. Lawrence Weiner has also visited numerous times, and has exhibited in Reykjavik as well as up north in Akureyri. Karin Sander has also exhibited in Reykjavik and has travelled throughout the country. Joan Jonas’s involvement dates back to her Volcano Saga (1985–1989), filmed in Iceland and based in part on the famous 13th-century Laxdaela Saga, while Swedish photographer Maria Friberg counts her experience studying for one year in Reykjavik at the Iceland Academy of the Arts as a formative influence.   

Ragna Róbertsdóttir exhibits two large-scale wall works, one made from actual lava chips gathered at Iceland’s famous volcanoes, and the other from red earth. Lawrence Weiner also exhibits two wall works that engage the landscape, one involving “Iceland spar” (a transparent variety of calcite) and the other falling “magma” (molten rock that becomes lava in volcanic eruptions, and a prime characteristic of Iceland). Hrafnhildur Arnardottir exhibits a vivid, looming sculpture made of multicolored artificial hair that also evokes caves, glaciers, and fairy tale lairs where magical creatures live, cliff walls, and volcanic eruptions. At the opening, noted Icelandic singer, musician, and visual artist Kría Brekkan improvised a live sound piece and performance in response to this work. Roman Signer’s three temporary sculptures/actions, recorded on video, occur at remote sites in Iceland. He inserts a camera into a bubbling hot spring and, in Snæfellsnes, takes a kayak trip through lava fields, not on a river but on an empty dirt road. At a rainy, windswept heath he ties two open umbrellas together and releases them to the elements. Catching the wind, the umbrellas rise up, cavort in the air, dance, tumble and bound across the landscape, and ultimately collapse.

The works in the exhibition are diverse, including sculptures, photographs, conceptual paintings, videos, text-based pieces, textiles, sound, and performance. All are elemental, in the multiple meanings of the word; they are involved with essences as well as forces of nature. Iceland, that remote, volcanic island nation in the North Atlantic, is a powerful and presiding influence, both on the Icelandic artists and those from elsewhere who have experienced and reveled in the country’s magnetic allure. 


Elemental at Havremagasinet
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June 19, 2013

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