Hugsteypan’s Framing references the duo’s previous exhibitions, in which questions about the characteristics and values of artists’ works were posed. What physical and abstract qualities do artworks elicit, and what role does the context the piece is shown in have to play? Hugsteypan’s works tiptoe on the intersections of painting and photography, of discrete sculptures and holistic installations.
Visual art is an unpredictable beast, seemingly able to combine idiosyncrasies from all directions: a definition of the phenomenon itself is impossible to nail down. This precariousness is the driving force behind Hugsteypan. Findings often point in the same direction: that no matter what framework is employed, two people will never perceive and interpret the same object in exactly the same way. Although we usually assume that what we say is heard and understood by others, one could argue that this is not the case at all. Interpretations of words and their context vary from one individual to the next. In Hugsteypan’s visual art, the audience is not necessarily required to fully comprehend the artists’ expressions, rather they are expected to recognise the gesture of the expressions and make an effort to absorb them.
In the exhibition Framing, Hugsteypan sets out to explore visual art from their own point of view as artists, whilst simultaneously approaching it through the eyes of the audience. The exhibition space is occupied by a three dimensional installation cascading across the walls and floors. It consists primarily of found materials that are of limited use ordinarily, but within the exhibition hall contribute to the overall effect having been taken out of their usual context. Photographs are similarly treated. They are not intended to stand as discrete reproductions of anything in particular; instead they serve as part of the abstract whole, in which all is equal. The audience can walk about the exhibition space contemplating that which meets the eye. Infinite perspectives are possible. This is reflected in the installation’s metamorphosis as various images are continuously projected across the room and the lighting transforms. Visitors are invited to direct their gaze in any direction they please, viewing from any angle, in this aesthetic experiment on perception.
The question of the life of the artwork after the artist has put it out into the open arises. What kind of images do different observers draw from the work, and what becomes of these images when they look away? Addressing this question directly, active visitor participation is combined with the experience of seeing the exhibition at Hafnarborg. Hugsteypan encourages all visitors so-equipped to take pictures of the installation, in whichever way the work inspires them to. If the images are shared online as per the instructions below, they will be projected into the exhibition space and subsequently become part of the installation. This brings up the issue of authorship: members of the audience are authors of their own pictures inspired by Hugsteypan’s work, which is in turn influenced by the pictures taken. In some cases, the visitors’ pictures will in a sense be the only manifestation of the exhibition for the remote audience. Thus, a layered experience of the phenomenon is born, where the proxy’s point of view is also heard.
The tasks of contemporary artists tackling the uncertainty at the core of their works – together with the levels of complexity that the audience faces in trying to interpreted them – all point in the same direction. When all these factors are in free flow, the question arises of whether all the fuzz is worth the effort. If an artist has no control over how an audience interprets a work (which may at the very least be misunderstood), then what is it that pushes visual art forward? The answers to this question demarcate the grey areas of artistic creation today. The faith in the ability of artists and their audience to come together in a work and find something of substance is unyielding. That the artwork becomes some sort of junction or console through which the creative forces and the joy of creation flow. In order that this will continue to be possible, artists and the audience must acknowledge the value of playing the game that is visual art. It is folklore’s fjöregg, a token which brings trolls great joy as they toss it about amongst themselves, yet should it fall and break it will be their demise. Art only thrives because artists and their audience support it. Hugsteypan is now launching the fjöregg over to the audience, and it will be curious to see in what way people respond.
Markús Þór Andrésson
Translation: Max Naylor