At the 2019 Venice Biennale, Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter has transformed a warehouse in Giudecca into a multi-sensory, cavernous environment with a cacophonous amount of her signature material, synthetic hair. At the installation, entitled “Chromo Sapiens”, color, sound and irresistible textures guided visitors through three distinct chambers provoking an immersive experience of visual and auditory stimuli.
Entering Chromo Sapiens, you find yourself in Primal Opus, a dark passage of emanating volcanic earthy hues, activated by the sub terra sound of the Icelandic cult metal band HAM. The second chamber erupts into a shockingly bright undulation of colored neon hair tufts. Aptly named Astral Gloria, her soaring cathedral ceiling and sheer emersion of chromatic opulence generates a kind of euphoric kinetic synesthesia. Opium Natura, the final cave flutters effortlessly into a soft landing of shimmering whites and pale soothing pastels, a fluffy heavenly nest that cradles you into a sense of serenity and sublime gentle bliss.
Shoplifter’s contemporaries, the Icelandic band HAM play an essential role, with a commissioned opus heard and felt throughout the installation. Their dissonant compositions of murmurs and pulsating pithy frequencies signal a nebulous final surrender of senses into the very walls of the caves embrace. Chromo Sapiens marks Shoplifter and HAM’s first collaboration. They share a mutual inspiration rooted in the raw beauty and tectonic landscape of growing up in Iceland.
Shoplifter’s work sits in the realm between visual arts, performance and fashion, anchored in her fascination with pop culture and mass production, combined with a keen sense of humor and miraculous ability to transform synthetic materials into sculptural hypernatural environments.
Curator, who has previously collaborated on three projects from Shoplifter’s series, notes: “Shoplifter has developed unique ways of working with textiles in space to critical acclaim and tremendous Birta Guðjónsdóttir public appreciation. It is indeed exciting to see our continuing collaboration take us to Venice where she mounts her largest installation to date, a site-specific emotive and contemplative experience. One enters the pavilion as Homo Sapiens and exits as Chromo Sapiens.”
Iceland has participated in the Biennale Arte since 1960. The Icelandic Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is commissioned by Reykjavik-based Icelandic Art Center (IAC) on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture.
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