Memories from Tomorrow
Memories are part of our bodily consciousness, connecting the experiences of all our senses. Through sensing the world, we collect memories that engrave themselves into our cells as stories, feelings, and dreams. Memories narrate our past and influence the time ahead, creating spatial and temporal extensions of our immediate life. In the exhibition Memories from Tomorrow, we ask ourselves how our memories manifest themselves, how they shape the experience of our surroundings and inspire our future.
Every day, we are writing stories we will have as memories in the future. Advancements in technology impact our lives drastically and form our ideas of tomorrow. The world in the near future is full of possible spaces and stories, and we are pondering upon the current questions of what it means to be human and what constitutes life. Do we have control of our present, future, and dreams? How do we write our narratives and experience our environment? Can we share a dream space? How will we live tomorrow and what will we look back on in the future?
The works of six artists shape the exhibition Memories from Tomorrow, all approaching the subject with multiple media and from different angles. Each artist tackles the topic in a personal way, which leads to diversity in composition and mediums of the exhibited works, yet asking the same fundamental questions while contemplating the imminent future.
Entering the museum, Sarah Finkle‘s site-specific work Dissolving ephemery greets us by the entrance. The work grasps the viewers' attention and leads the eye into the exhibition space as well as to the characteristics of the architecture. By stretching layers of delicate textiles into the space, she creates a constantly changing dialogue between the visitor and the work. The work can be seen as a redefinition of space through textiles, capturing time, and telling a story through tension and movement. Like memories and dreams, the piece is not quite tangible. As the visitors move through space, they can experience a shift between chaotic structures and clear lines. But just as one tries to grasp it, it dissipates into loose threads. Like the pleonasm in the title, there is a constant repetition in Sarah´s movements, while she discovers extensions of the room. Sarah describes her work as a continuous search of space, material, and the body. She invites the viewer to experience these intimate, tense, and fragile moments and, therefore, the viewer becomes an active participant. With her work, Sarah makes something wholly new with every space she takes on: new lines, new forms, new ways to explore, experience, and see space.
In her work Stranded from 2020/2021, Victoria Björk combines her interest in timeless traces and meditation gardens. A wooden sculpture with silver printing lead inscription, reminiscent of signatures or calligraphic poems, opens an analogous reality that is peculiar and mysterious. On the wall next to it we see Now and then, a smaller piece of driftwood with silver-coloured stumps that seem to grow out of the wood. Detached from life, it continues to write its story. The sculptures are surrounded by an ungraspable yellow-green substance. Finding our path alongside its edges, we can never really reach the sculptures. The wooden sculpture on the ground – unknown if drifted ashore or emerged from within a glacier – stays a cryptic mystery. The piece on the wall keeps evolving without us interfering. Victoria´s work evokes the feeling of a strange and almost unsettling tranquility. We realize that everything is temporary and there is only so much we can control.
Aqua Room by Elnaz Mansouri is a Cinema 4D loop video and audio work from 2020. The work creates an alternative reality that shows an underwater dreamscape: a flooded living room with tilted axes. Even though the scene is surreal, Elnaz allows the viewer to feel comfort and familiarity, as if it is a known place. The artist uses colours, light, and movement, combined with audio inspired by ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) to evoke a feeling of calmness and to blur the line between reality and dream. ASMR has become an unlikely trend on social media in recent years. The term defines a bodily feeling of relaxation, also known as “brain massage”, triggered by watching certain visuals or listening to particular sounds such as whispers and crackles. The artist creates a virtual reality in which we can question our own perception of reality, maybe realizing that we might be witnessing a futuristic manifestation that makes us feel at ease.
Hallgerður Hallgrímsdóttir’s work Light of day from 2011 explores the meaning and histories of memories of home. Hallgerður combines found photographs and video stills with her own photographs and fragments of collected texts from various archives. Opening up different perspectives of the mundane and life itself, we find ourselves rediscovering daily situations. The different pieces of the work are spread out on the wall, allowing multiple narratives to unravel, like a scattered journey through memories and dreams that can neither be relived nor forgotten. Engaging in these fleeting moments and glimpses of everyday life, the two-dimensional, static medium suddenly seems to enter our three-dimensional space. Hallgerður’s piece bridges the surrealistic atmosphere in the space into something that is almost tangible.
In his digital designs, Vikram Pradhan explores physical, virtual, and psychic spaces in time. Entering through black curtains, we find ourselves in a dream space, where we can rest and share our dreams. Lucidity was initiated in 2020 when Vikram started a fictional radio channel to broadcast anonymously reported news from the dream world, provided by lucid dreaming psychonauts and oneironauts. For this exhibition he updated the radio episodes, playing from suspended headphones: Digging in archives, Vikram reconstructed the reported stories with voices from the past. In the space, visitors can add their dreams to this ongoing project. Projections of flowing visuals run down from the walls and leak onto the floor of the space. While swimming in the diffuse lights, we can continue our dreams we’ve had been dreaming the night before: about our wishes, our memories, our lost thoughts from the past which could just as well come from the future. If we tab into a lucid dream, we can live in an imagined world where possibilities become endless.
Before entering through another curtain, we can already hear the piece Limbo (2020). An emphatic, sometimes piercing sound sphere, created by João Carlos Pinto, fills up the darkened room, where the only light comes from the piece itself. Sarah Degenhardt´s two-channel video installation projected to the wall of the space becomes one with the sound. The work creates the feeling of a transitional state it indicates with its title. The abstract images in the video installation change slowly, opening up new spaces, one after the other, referring to the slow and constant changes in our surroundings. Being in this space, we also slow down, gaining physical awareness of where we are in relation to our environment. In her artistic work, Sarah Degenhardt deals with the interaction of landscape and humans, reducing it to its abstract essence. Through the creation of multisensory irritations, she offers us the opportunity to reposition ourselves and reflect on how we want to relate to our surroundings in the future.
Sarah Finkle (* 1989, New York) is a fiber artist and has received her BA´s degree in studio art at Skidmore college, with a concentration in textiles and sculpture. She is currently in the Fine Art Master program at the Iceland University of the Arts. Along with exhibiting her works within New York City and abroad, she has further explored textiles within a scenic design, creating interactive fiber installations for theater and dance productions including The Shapes We Make with Our Bodies (2017), Ghost Women (2018), and You Sound Like a Girl (2018-2019).
Victoria Björk (* 1998, Iceland) is a multi-media artist, graduating from the BA Fine Art at the Icelandic University of the Arts this summer. In her practice, she usually works with sculptures and installations made from natural and found materials. Victoria explores the mysteries of the unknown, traces of time found in the environment, and imagined possibilities of the past and future.
Elnaz Mansouri (*1991, Iran) is a multimedia artist, practicing in the fields of Photography, 3D Art, AR, and VR. She received her BFA in 2013 at OCAD University, Toronto, and is currently completing her MA in Fine Art at the Iceland University of the Arts. Elnaz focuses on abstracting and re-imagining environments and spaces while experimenting with conceptual ideas inspired by Magical Realism. In her recent practice, which involves working with 3D software technology and virtual reality, Elnaz constructs a space/environment which blurs the line between reality and fantasy.
Hallgerður Hallgrímsdóttir (* 1984, Iceland) holds a BA in Fine Art with focus on photography from Glasgow School of Art, and an MA in Fine Art from Akademin Valand in Gothenburg, Sweden (2019). Her work has been exhibited widely, including at The Photographer's Gallery in London, Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg, Føroya Art Museum, Akureyri Art Museum, Fotografisk Center in Copenhagen and the Reykjavík Art Museum. Hallgerður’s photo book Hvassast was published in 2016, and in 2018 the Pastel Series in Iceland published the poetry photo book Límkenndir dagar. Hallgerður lives and works in Reykjavík.
Vikram Pradhan (* 1997, India) studied Information Arts at Srishti University in Bangalore, India. In 2021, he graduated with an MA in Design from the Icelandic University of the Arts and is currently based in Iceland. Vikram works with various mediums in the field of art and design to create pataphysical works, revolving around psychology and philosophy. His previous works have dealt with topics like the visual experience of Schizophrenia and the practice of Lucid Dreaming through a fictional radio show. His practice currently revolves around researching speculative design and pataphysics, and is highly based on experimentations done with the medium of video and photography.
Sarah Degenhardt (* 1992, Germany) studied Fine Arts at Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe, Germany, at École Supérieure d’Art La Réunion and at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris, France. Experiences of landscape and nature, and their influence on humans are the source and initial moment in Sarah’s works. In the working process, she transforms these into densely reduced images that find their translation in audiovisual multi-channel installations, paper works and sculptures. Spatial mannerisms and points of reference are the elements that interest her continuously. She has been awarded several prizes, grants, and residencies and was represented internationally in exhibitions in Germany, France, Portugal, Iceland, and Japan.
Sound, Co-Conception of Limbo
João Carlos Pinto (* 1998, Portugal) studied Piano and Composition at Braga Gulbenkian Conservatory and did his BA in Composition at Lisbon Superior Music School. He has presented his work in South Korea, USA, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, and all over Portugal. He has received commissions from various institutions. João is a performer in projects like Peter Evans’ Som Crescente, CACO.MEAL, and Omniae Ensemble.
All photos by Vigfús Birgisson, courtesy of Listasafn Reykjanesbæjar / Reykjanes Art Museum
We want to thank Reykjanes Art Museum, Director Helga Þórsdóttir, and the museum’s staff for this opportunity and all their help; Janosch Kratz for the amazing graphic design; and our Professor Hanna Styrmisdóttir for her guidance and support.
Sara Blöndal (* 1989, Iceland) graduated with a BA (Hons.) in Theatre design from Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London in 2015 and is currently in the MA Curatorial practice at the Iceland University of the Arts. She has mainly been working in theatre and film since 2010 and has a production company called Muninn Film. Sara considers herself to be good at problem solving, collaborating and drinking coffee.
Iona Poldervaart (* 1996, Switzerland) is studying in the MA Curatorial Practice at the Iceland University of the Arts. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Biology from the University of Zurich. In her curatorial approach she focuses on questions of space and dimensions, interdisciplinarity, experimentation, and collaboration.
Sunna Dagsdóttir (* 1997, Germany) grew up in Hiroshima and Berlin and moved to Reykjavík in 2017, where she finished her BA in German and Art Theory from the University of Iceland. She is now in the 1st year of the MA Curatorial Practice program at the Iceland University of the Arts.