Katrin Sugurdardottir is a conceptual artist and Sculptor whose work has been exhibited internationally. Born in Reykjavik in 1967, she has spent the bulk of the last fourteen years living in New York City. Her work currently graces the innards of PS1 in New York in the form of High Plane V, a miniature icescape which forces the viewer(s) to ascend a pair of staircases and poke their heads through holes carved into the ceiling to view the landscape, effectively becoming a part of the piece themselves.
Much of her work is interactive. Whether it be two strangers confronting one another’s disembodied heads in an arctic thaw or following 300 feet of jagged architectural suggestion as it meanders through the gallery. One has the feeling that these pieces are a glimpse of the space between the sub and conscious frozen in place.
I met with Katrin on a sunny March afternoon in her Long Island City studio.
Andrew Simmons: Some background on High Plane V?
Katrin Sugurdardottir: The piece was first finished in 2001; it has been remade a few times in different spaces. (It has been shown) in , Brooklyn, Chicago, and now PS1. It is a fictional landscape, a mixture between real and remembered. The participatory element is very important…..Sometimes people say my work is figurative, no, performative, but it does this without the figure. The viewer becomes the figure of the work when they enter the exhibition.
I observed reactions to this work for over an hour and noticed some patterns which I thought were interesting. When one person viewed the piece, they were silent. Same when two strangers viewed together. When two acquaintances looked on simultaneously, there was laughter, without fail. Did you expect this? It is almost like three different pieces in this respect.
When I designed the piece originally, I did not expect such a social aspect. You see another head and you see it like a mirror of yourself. The experience I anticipated was when two strangers meet within the piece, not so much the social relationship. People have also observed two strangers having a conversation.
One viewer, when asked for her thoughts, said “It feels like you are peeking into someone’s dream.” And, I notice a dreamlike quality in much of your work.
I don’t use my dreams per se, not what I dream at night or in the day. My work, associations in the work, are often very psychoanalytical. You find meaning in the work similarly to how you interpret dreams, in a psychoanalytical way. I don’t claim to own the meaning, if I wanted to communicate something very concrete, I would choose another medium. The work I do is not exactly suited for a direct message. I am happy to hear new interpretations of my work.
In some of the work, especially the divided and packaged landscapes, I feel the presence of a sociopolitical subtext.
(My work) is not the correct medium for political discourse, though I am happy about a political reading of my work, it is not made for this. You could say that anything and everything is political.
Has living in New York had any direct influence on the work you make?
One piece I made depicts the topography of a New York neighborhood….I have been influenced a lot by the work I see in New York that doesn’t necessarily come from New York or have anything to do with New York.
Any other creative outlets?
High Plane V will be on view at PS1 until May 7.
Andrew M. Simmons was born in 1978 in Cincinnati Ohio. His youth was spent there. Mr. Simmons Attended the Ohio State University earning a BFA in 2001. He spent some time in the Appalachians of Tennessee before moving to Jersey City in 2002. The Heights of Jersey City have been his home ever since. firstname.lastname@example.org
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