GUDNY ROSA INGIMARSDOTTIR
“La Médiatine”, Brussels – A Visit in December 2005
Coming into the first room of the exhibition, the visitor is irritated by apparently white walls. It is just when he takes a closer look that he realizes the words and sentences written all over them. They are in Icelandic and the artist has written them in pencil with painstaking care directly on the wall, fully aware, that hardly any visitor will understand their meaning because of the exotic language, despite the distinctness we attribute to the written word.
Still searching for a meaning, the observer has stepped close to the wall and inspects – since he can’t make sense of the words themselves – the immediate space around them. Close to the writing he detects small cracks in the wall, holes filled with plaster or other rough spots, the remnants of former activities. Soon the eyes are on a voyage of discovery. The room has too much a life of its own to allow Ingimarsdottir’s drawings to be shown here as well. This becomes obvious in the next room, in which we find a frieze of small-sized work on paper. The drawings are in notepaper format and in their form and structure reminiscent of microscopic photographs or exhibits from a zoological collection. Taking a closer look, you discover delicate pencil lines, fine threads wound around cut up pieces of paper, dots of paint and traces of rubber Arabica that create an impression of amorphous, seemingly organic forms.
In the rustic attic the artist has installed a projection:
A hand in a pink rubber glove is rinsing a framed sentimental landscape in oil at a sink under a running faucet. The other hand first thoroughly cleans the face of the canvass, next its back and finally the frame with the help of a sponge, detergent and a brush. The picture is then put aside and the procedure is repeated on another painting, again a landscape. Afterwards, the two paintings are put back to their original places on the wall. Neither of them has taken any damage and they are definitely cleaner than before. The strange cleaning process makes the observer smile, but it also raises a number of questions. The act itself is in no way destructive. Is this diligent cleaning then to be seen as an honest act of respect towards art by a simple mind? Can works of art put up with a far more robust and natural treatment than we usually think? The observer has to decide for himself.
Three rooms, three different media: installation, drawing, video. And they all demand from the observer to be inspected very closely. His vision is focussed, a fleeting glance will necessarily miss the very essentials. The objects and materials Ingimarsdottir uses become organisms, transformed in an almost animist way in the process of their cleaning, stitching, gluing and naming. Sometimes it is done in a humoristic fashion, sometimes in deep meditation, sometimes in irritating strangeness which has its roots in a remote culture. Another conception of time and space becomes visible. Despite of the closeness and immediacy of her work, Ingimarsdottir also makes us feel her personal distance and the experience of loss.
Each of her exhibitions is a complex reflection of her artistic thought, originating from the different elements of her work.