HABITUS HABITAT KAPITAL (2021)
Installation: candle wax, pigment, photographs, color gels, clay, glaze, wood, paint
Featured in a group show at The Living Art Museum "Is the Spirit aware of the Matter?", with works by Ragnheiður Gestsdóttir, Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir and Sindri Leifsson
Curator: Sunna Ástþórsdóttir
With the installation Habitus Habitat Kapital, Ragnheiður Gestsdóttir plays with the staging of reality. She compiles images, objects and materials from different eras, and arranges them as if they were a Dutch still life from the seventeenth century, or an enticing Pinterest collection of our time; - a pillar made of wax wrapped around a museum's column, hand-made ceramic kettlebells, and portraits of unnamed women and children. We know kettlebells as a fitness tool, used to train and shape muscular bodies, but here everything is turned upside down. The artist has shaped the light, fragile bells - emblems of masculinity - in clay with her own hands, considering how the craft of ceramics has long been considered a female discipline in Iceland (unlike 'higher' media, such as painting and sculpture). They are arranged as beautiful objects, unusable and desirable, on beige pedestals - a color that is commonly associated with white skin. The photographs show anonymous children and women from the National Museum's archives, now cherished in the gesture of being exhibited. They are photographed in front of a magnificent backdrop that Ragnheiður has pulled out from the surface, and into the spotlight, as a miniature sculpture. The backdrop is hand-painted and places the subjects, the items exhibited, and exhibition visitors, in a rich and cosmopolitan setting, surrounded by gloriously decorated columns, wallpaper, and wood panelling in the spirit of European villas. The pillar is made of leftover candle wax that Ragnheiður collected from the city's churches. Pillars carry not only buildings but also the spirit. Habitus Habitat Kapital provides a channel for different man-made perspectives, all based on our endless desire for a superficial, constructed lifestyle that seems more precious than the one we truly live. It is highly critical of the sociological power dynamics, and systemic prejudices, of European history. At the same time, Ragnheiður shows, through a juxtaposition of visual references, how we usually use the same methods (despite the zeitgeist) to elevate and construct a dashing image of our existence, financial situation and personality - an image that few have the luxury of maintaining.
Photos: Christopher Lund & Vigfús Birgisson