between you and me

This presentation focuses on the exhibition by Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson, entitled “between you and me”. The project centres on the representations and intrinsic value of things and calls into question the myriad bases upon which we construct such representations. Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson have for some time in their work examined specific relationships between human and non-human animals – in “nanoq: flat out and bluesome” the polar bear, in “Big Mouth” the Tasmanian Tiger, in “(a)fly” urban pets etc. “between you and me” examines a contemporary set of relationships between humans and seals, with its particular focus on the coastal areas of Iceland where humans and seals, with its particular focus on the coastal areas of Iceland where interaction of one sort or another has been customary for many centuries. In the Kalmar Art Museum, the installation was interspersed throughout the entire building – on the ground floor, the library, the upper stairwell and the main gallery on the top floor. In this upper space, the artists placed their key video work, “the naming of things”, in direct dialogue with selected works from the collection at Kalmar including drawings, prints, paintings, photographs and textiles, all of which in one way or another represent animals.

Our colonization of the building in this way, its implications for the audience, together with our staging of a public seminar event held during the exhibition are all discussed during this presentation. In addition, short video extracts will be screened.

Because most representations are constructed to perform some agenda of our own – in the case of animals, to entertain, to inform, to provide food, to remember, to stand for all others of the species, to symbolize human behavioural characteristics etc – in this process, the animal itself is occluded – eclipsed by its avatar or likeness, which is always a simplification and therefore must accordingly signify a loss.

Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson’s work challenges the anthropocentric systems of convenience that sanction a daily acceptance of such loss and in an attempt to address such historical and contemporary imbalance, posits the alternative idea of “parities in meeting”.

Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir & Mark Wilson conduct their collaborative practice from bases in the north of England, Iceland and Gothenburg, Sweden. With a strong research grounding, their socially engaged projects explore contemporary relationships between human and non-human animals in the contexts of history, culture and the environment. The practice sets out to challenge anthro-pocentric systems and the thinking that sanctions loss through representations of ‘the other’, proposing instead, alternative tropes including ‘parities in meeting’.

Previous projects include:
“Uncertainty in the City”, Storey Gallery, Lancaster, UK, 2010
“between you and me”, Podspace Gallery, Newcastle, NSW,
2009 and Kalmar Konstmuseum, Sweden, 2009
“(a)fly”, Reykjavík Arts Festival, Iceland, 2006
“nanoq: flat out and bluesome”, assorted venues including Bristol, London, Oxford, Reykjavík, Copenhagen, Oslo, Cambridge, Svalbard and Tromsø, 2004 – 2011
“Big Mouth”, Tramway, Glasgow, 2004

Uncertainty in the City, The Green Box – Kunst Editionen, Berlin, 2011
nanoq: flat out and bluesome, Black Dog Publishing, London, 2006
(a)fly, National Museum of Iceland, 2006
Big Mouth, Tramway, Glasgow, 2004
Work in progress include
“Matrix”, a project concerning arctic maternity dens for which the artists undertook a research trip to Svalbard in 2010 and Landfill, a new project for the 2011 Gothenburg Biennial, Sweden

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