The Chromo Sapiens cavern in the Icelandic pavilion is a volcano of hair

With stalactites of hair and chromo-therapy, the landscape created by Shoplifter at the Icelandic pavilion explodes and contaminates its visitors.

Padiglione dell’Islanda

The curator of the Icelandic pavilion Birta Guðjónsdóttir directly addresses “Dear Homo Sapiens”, inviting them to enter a sensory cavern from which they will exit transformed. The artist Shoplifter, an Icelander resident in New York, has covered the Spazio Punch in the Giudecca district with her “trademark”, a mass of synthetic hair. In her work, the nature of her homeland encounters the artificial nature and the consumption of the pop culture, creating a new expressive language.

In the Chromo Sapiens era, the ancestral clash between humankind and nature seems over and we see continuous contamination between the two elements. Inside the work, we are invited to touch, and to allow ourselves to be contaminated.

We enter Primal Opus, a dark space within which traces of neon light escape. An alien place inhabited by visceral sounds, whose energy recalls the echo of volcanoes. This soundscape has been created by the metal group HAM, which Shoplifter listened to when she was a teenager, abandoning herself to the physical vibrations of their dark and explosive notes.

Following these initial telluric shocks, we come to Astral Gloria, a high space in which this time the fluorescent colours envelop not only the mind, but the entire body. Transported by the psychedelic explosion of colour, we arrive at Opium Natura, in which the pastel shades of the soft masses of hair and an enveloping light caress our senses. Shoplifter defines her installations as Nervescapes: “a word which refers to escape or to landscape; to nerves, and to a kind of neural landscape.”

Language has evolved, and we need a new dictionary. The cavern is full of these new sounds, through which the words of the artist Jen De Nike echo, poetically describing the work of her colleague and friend: “Choreographed kinetic forces linger in hypnotic song. Insatiable pigment bristles with gesture towards metered stalactites thick and bestrewn, yielding to neon cacophony”.

Opening picture: Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter. “Chromo Sapiens”, Installation view at the Icelandic Pavilion for the 58th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia, 2019. Photo: Ugo Carmeni. © the artist

Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir/Shoplifter
Birta Guðjónsdóttir
58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia
Spazio Punch, Giudecca 800
11th May - 24th November 2019

Special Biennale

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