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My Friend the Foreigner 22.09.11-25.09.11 Opening hours 13:00-17:00 The Old Ambulance Depot 77 Brunswick Street Edinburgh EH7 5HS Artists Eva Ísleifsdóttir Katrín Inga Jónsdóttir Hjördísardóttir Hirt Rakel McMahon Una Björk Sigurðardóttir Þorgerður Ólafsdóttir Curators Eva Ísleifsdóttir Rakel McMahon Artists talk 25th September at 15:00 Moderator Shona Macnaughton


Curators talk There is a saying; If a tree falls down in the forest and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound? In a strange way that could sum up a certain kind of fear that is relevant to all artists; the fear of the absence of response. It also might be the result of living on an island with a population estimate of 319.000 that you rely on making new platforms for communication, you fantasize about the unfamiliar. It was the morning after a night out in Reykjavik, Rakel and Eva were eating Quality Street chocolates for breakfast when the idea of My Friend the Foreigner came up. The idea combines the three ingredients that are needed in a project of this sort; exhibitions, a dialog between artists and the exploration of the cities Edinburgh and Reykjavik. It is a platform for experimentation, research and connecting ideas. Of course, there is no guarantee that this will ever succeed in furthering developments of collaboration and projects between the two cities, but you never know. We like to think that we should approach these conjured opportunities and expeditions when they are staring you straight in the face. It is actually hard to look away.

Eva テ行leifsdテウttir & Rakel McMahon


Eva Ísleifsdóttir 1982 www.evaisleifs.tumblr.com evaisleifs@gmail.com Eva Isleifsdottir studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts where she graduated with a BA in Fine Art in 2008. In 2010 she graduated with a MFA in Sculpture from Edinburgh College of Art. Since 2008 Eva has exhibited her work internationally and co-created artist projects and residencies. She is also part of the performance duo called Directrix.

My work is concerned with portraying personal visions of our society, question the norms and conventions of our everyday life. The persisting need for control is a prominent feature in the human behavior. I deal with social identities and social conventions through the use of humor, investigating the relationship between the commercial and the charitable. We often like to use humor to get away from our selves, but in the act we only reveal our true selves. Could it be that Jokes are just an expression of an abstract relation to the World. A total enhanced body and mind megaflop.

What influences my work is the complexity of the human feeling and the people’s response to situations Creating an assembled dialogue of symbols and uncanny situations. Ancient history, mythical ambiguity and the strange absurd, we might be able to find something similar within the corporate paganism, maybe? Religious structures and how we come to believe & and what makes us arrive at that point. The possibility to enter into and become part of an universal language. To believe is maybe a simple gesture of giving space? What happens between the act of control and the act of encouraging?


Pylsa. Two stills from a video. 2010


Katrín I. Jónsdóttir Hjördísard. Hirt 1982 http://english.umm.is/UMMenglish/Artists/Artist/984 http://vimeo.com/user6196234/videos katrin.ijh@gmail.com Katrín i JÓNSDÓTTIR HJÖRDÍSARDÓTTIR HIRT graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts with BA degree in fine art 2008 and will graduate from University of Iceland with BA in art history/art theory and creative writing in 2012. Katrín has exhibited her works and performed in various places in Iceland. For example, The Living Art Museum, Reykjavík Art Museum and National Gallery of Iceland. Katrín usually tries to knock down the value of art but at the same time she wants to increase its worth. She tries to bring art closer to the viewer by putting her work up in public places or in a sincere way. The sincerity, which sometimes has the effect of irony, makes her work mysterious and cryptic but at times also very lucid. Katrín believes that art can save the world, in fact its art’s duty to do so. Art is our only hope for a better life. Katrín reuses her ideas by executing them in different ways and places. She researches her ideas and evolves them with a variety of mediums and space, because she believes ideas in themselves can be so much more than just one piece of art. The possibilities for the execution of ideas are endless.

For the exhibition My Friend the Foreigner Katrín will re-perform some of her old art works, performance about criticizing standard phenomenon in our society. She will also give guests primary samples of a new idea of work of art, performance that is all about theory - the idea consists of texts about fine art - as independent artwork. At the opening 22nd September Katrín will perform the new work; Text about fine art is work of art - for the whole evening. Katrín will perform some of her works daily throughout the exhibition from 14:00-16:00.

Reading Art Work. 2011 perfomance and text.

Opposite page; Brain Machine. 2007. Various metal material 200x50x40


Rakel McMahon 1983 www.rakelmcmahon.com mcmahonrakelgmail.com Rakel McMahon graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2008. In 2009 she graduated with a MA diploma of Applied Gender Studies from the University of Iceland. She has been active in the Icelandic art scene since her graduation, exhibiting and participating in various cultural events. Her first solo exhibition was FEED ME, in Kron Kron, in 2009. Her work has been exhibited at various places in Iceland, such as Kling & Bang gallery, The Nordic house, gallery Crymo, The Living art Museum. She was a member and one of five artists running gallery Crymo, which was a non-profit artist run gallery centered in the heart of Reykjavík, Iceland. She was one of eight artist who participated in Alt_Cph alternative art fair 2010 in Denmark, on the behalf of gallery Crymo. Rakel is one of two founders and coorganizer of Gallerí Klósett, which is a artist run space in Reykjavík city.

PETA loves Pollock. Performance. 2009

Rakel tries to create a particular emotional atmosphere and state. In order that her ideas and the work as a whole can be better understood, she creates a mediator. In most instances this mediator is a character and it is his/her function to present the work’s intended “message”. She works mostly in two media forms i.e. performance and painting/drawing all though her work methods and approach to these medias is quite different. The titles of her work play an important role in her work, she says that the titles are necessary because they direct one’s attention towards the central theme and that it is not until you have evaluated the central theme that you understand the title. For example the title MAN_UTD plays an essential role in how the viewer approaches the work, making as it does a direct reference to the Premier League English football team, Manchester United. The shortened version of the name Manchester United could just as well be interpreted as Human United, as in man and woman meshing into one and the line between gender and sexuality becoming blurred or vague.

FEED ME. Acryl, pencil and collage on plexiglass. 2009


MAN_UTD. Photograph. 2011


Una Björk Sigurðardóttir 1983 una.rusl.org unutryppi@hotmail.com Una B. Sigurðardóttir has for last couple of years lived and worked in Reykjavík as an artist and a poet, as well as teaching fine arts. She has been involved in the organization of many artistic events, participated in numerous exhibitions in Iceland and abroad, and given performances and readings of her own works. In the spring of 2008 she graduated from Iceland Academy of the Arts (BFA) and has published three book whit drawings and poems: Ævintýri sjúklegur stelpunnar, Sjúklega stelpan drepur and Sápusögur (2007). Currently she is pursuing her Master degree in Fine Arts at the AKV-St.Joost in the Netherlands. Her body of work is marked by multiplicity and the desire to experiment with materials, medium and method. In Una’s works there are underlying narratives, and although she critically examines serious subject matter, her work is liberally spiked with humor. Una seeks to process her personal vision of society and environment in the context of the ideological assumptions and global realities that modern man is faced with. Therefore many images of consumerism and popular culture, as well as symbols of dominant ideologies, have become motifs in her work.

This artwork, “On a empty stomach, (Somali Refugees)”, is not an attempt to reach any conclusion about the situation in The Horn of Africa. It is meant to be a tribute, a reminder of those that suffer there at this very moment. This famine is caused by multiple issues and a politically complexed situation, all working at once in making this a truly massive disaster.

According to the World Food Program at least 13 million people in the Horn of Africa are affected and in need of humanitarian assistance. As for the situation in Somalia, I quote the CNN webpage on the 7th of September: “A record 4 million people in Somalia need humanitarian aid and 750,000 people are in danger of “imminent starvation, the United Nations said on Monday.” (http://globalpublicsquare. blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/07/u-n-750000people-in-somalia-face-imminentstarvation/?iref=allsearch) Some have claimed that it is a man made disaster, that crises resembling this one are preventable. I will not take a standpoint in this matter, but a statement such as this certainly calls for an attention. I realize that my effort is merely a attempt to project a fragment of the reality that is taking place. My vision is based on what I can find in the media; reviews, pictures, videos and interviews with aid agency workers, doctors, politicians and journalists on the spot. All I have, is a second hand experience of a reality that I have never touched, smelled or seen. This safe experience of disaster taking place in a distant country puzzles me, and I am aware that what I say and show concerning this situation will always be told from the aspect of a voyeur. My drive, my reason for doing this artwork is the urgency to at least try to do something. I wish that you, who reads this will not forget these people either and that you find your way to tribute to them. This is important because the situation has not reached its peak yet and a lot of help is still needed, even though it does not make it to the headlines anymore. You can find numbers of humanitarian aid groups working in the Horn of Africa. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: http://www.wfp. org/ DOCTORS WITH OUT BORDERS: http:// www.doctorswithoutborders.org/ OXFAM:http://www.oxfam.org.uk/index_ anim.html UNICEF:http://www.unicef.org.uk/ UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency:http://www. unhcr.org.uk/ WORLD VISION: http://www.worldvision. org.uk/- see leaflet for more.


Part of the work On a empty stomach, (Somali Refugees). 2011


Þorgerður Ólafsdóttir 1985 thorgerdur.wordpress.com thorgerdurolafsdottir@gmail.com Þorgerður graduated with a BA-degree in Fine Arts from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2009. She has taken part in numerous exhibitions in museums and galleries in Iceland, including Without Destination in Reykjavik Art Museum and Somewhere along those Lines in Reykjanes Art Museum, as well as exhibiting her work abroad in various exhibition spaces and art fairs. An important part of Þorgerður’s work as an artist has also been to contribute and create projects in Iceland and abroad. In summer 2009 she co-founded and managed gallery Crymo, an artist-run and a non-profit exhibition space, as well as establishing Æringur, a traveling art festival in the rural areas of Iceland. Her latest projects include directing Sequences real time art festival in 2011, sitting as a boardmember of the Living Art Museum and being chief-editor of the publication Trust us! We are artists, a book about gallery Crymo and the artists that were involved. Þorgerður is currently undertaking her MFA at Glasgow School of Art.

Þorgerður often works with images drawn from her environment and is interested in exploring different forms and manifestations of nature, culture and history and often uses material such as photographs, postcards and maps for her art works. Landscape has been a repeating subject in her artistic practice, whether it is a city landscape or natural landscape, and no distinction is made between natural or artificial terrain. Her subject in art is often of political or scientific nature but it is held together with a poetic approach and the effort to preserve something that is of subjective and transient nature. Mountain Milk Remade is a work that became real after a chance-encounter at the dump in Westfjords of Iceland where the locals throw away remains of derilect houses. The work consists of a photograph of the chance-encounter itself and the found print or a replica of the painting Mountain Milk. The painting was made in 1941 by the noted artist Jóhannes Kjarval, just three years before Iceland got it´s independance. The motiv is Flosagjá in Þingvellir, were the Parlament was established. Today the painting is thought of as being the first icelandic political artwork because the theme is rooted in the awareness of national conciousness and for a very long time people took pride in hanging the print up on their wall.


Mountain Milk Remade. 2011. Photograph

Mountain Milk Remade. 2011. Print Opposite page; Jóhannes Kjarval hanging in his summerhouse, Hjaltastaðaþinghá in East-Iceland


My Friend the Foreigner  

Catalog for the exhibition held in the Old Ambulance Factory in Edinburgh Scotland 22 - 25 september 2011

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