55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. Katrín Sigurðardóttir – Island Pavilion


Katrín Sigurðardóttir
Commissioner: Dorotheé Kirch.

Curators: Mary Ceruti , Ilaria Bonacossa.

Venue: Lavanderia, Palazzo Zenobio, Collegio Armeno Moorat-Raphael, Fondamenta del Soccorso, Dorsoduro 2596

For the Pavilion of Iceland at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia in 2013, Katrín Sigurdardóttir has designed a large-scale sculptural intervention for the Lavanderia—The Old Laundry at Palazzo Zenobio. The artist has created a floating platform covered by an ornate, baroque-inspired design, measuring approximately 90 square meters. The outline of the architectural structure takes its form from the footprint of a typical 18th century pavilion. It intersects both interior and exterior spaces of this auxiliary building in the garden of the Palace, with two sets of stairs for access by visitors. The project is born from a career-long exploration of distance and memory and their embodiments in architecture, urbanism, cartography, and landscape. Sigurdardóttir’s work often includes highly detailed renditions of places, both real and fictional, that incorporate an element of surprise. The piece will travel to the Reykjavík Art Museum and then to the SculptureCenter in Long Island City, New York. Sigurdardóttir will adapt the sculpture to the new architecture of each location, yet it will maintain its original footprint as well as the cut-out memory of the walls of the previous sites.

Upon entering the work, visitors will first climb the stairs leading from the garden to the platform, and then bend down to pass through the truncated doors of the building. The work extends beyond the confines of the Lavanderia’s walls on three sides and allows the public to navigate diverse interior and exterior spaces. Visitors can also climb stairs to the roof of the building and look down on the sculpture’s large footprint and intricate patterns. The size of this architectural piece dwarfs the building, and thus takes on a familiar theme in Sigurdardóttir’s oeuvre, the playful manipulation of scale. Notably, Iceland lacks its own pavilion in the Giardini, and therefore the floating, disembodied structure of Sigurdardóttir’s sculpture takes on a special significance. The outline of the form becomes a metaphor for the outline of the national space.

Sigurdardóttir has worked with two curators in realizing the exhibition, Mary Ceruti, Executive Director and Chief Curator at SculptureCenter, and Ilaria Bonacossa, Director of Villa Croce, Contemporary Art Museum in Genova since 2012.

The Icelandic Art Center oversees the Pavilion of Iceland at la Biennale di Venezia in collaboration with the Reykjavík Art Museum, which will house Sigurdardóttir’s exhibition in Iceland after the project in Venice ends. The choice of the representative of Iceland at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia was in the hands of a panel of experts, which consisted of: Dorothée Kirch, Director of The Icelandic Art Center, Ólöf Kristín Sigurdardóttir, Director of Hafnarborg The Hafnarfjordur Centre of Culture and Fine Art, and Hildur Bjarnadóttir, artist. Visiting members in the committee were Ragnar Kjartansson, artist, and Ólafur Gíslason, art historian.

Biographies for the Pavilion of Iceland at la Biennale di Venezia

Katrín Sigurdardóttir
Katrín Sigurdardóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1967 and has lived and worked between Iceland and the United States for 25 years. Since her first solo exhibition in San Francisco in 1992, her works have been shown extensively in Europe and the Americas, and are included in numerous public and private collections. She has had notable solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2010); MoMA PS1, New York (2006); FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, France (2006); Sala Siqueiros, Mexico City (2005); Fondazione Sandretto, Turin, Italy (2004); and The Reykjavík Museum of Art (2004, 2000).

Dorothée Kirch
Prior to being appointed director of the Icelandic Art Center in March 2010 Dorothée Kirch (b. 1974 – German) worked as a freelance curator and cultural worker. Projects included exhibitions, events and documentaries all in the field of contemporary visual arts. She worked and lived in New York and Berlin before returning to Reykjavik. Kirch graduated with a BA in studio arts from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2001 and an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Reykjavik University in 2005.

Ilaria Bonacossa
Ilaria Bonacossa is the Director of Villa Croce, Contemporary Art Museum in Genova since 2012. After ten years as curator at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Torino, she co-founded Art at Work in 2009: a collective that commissions and develops contemporary art projects through an innovative working platform that operates in both public and private institutions, as well as for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. She has written about art for international institutions and magazines.

Mary Ceruti
Mary Ceruti is Executive Director and Chief Curator at SculptureCenter. Located in Long Island City, New York, SculptureCenter is dedicated to experimental and innovative developments in contemporary sculpture. Ceruti has organized numerous solo and group exhibitions, as well as special projects, and commissions by emerging and established artists.