Keep Frozen part four

Mixed media installation and performance (2016)

12 commissioned paintings, each 120x40 cm, ship-paint on aluminium; heap of net as a 'found sculpture' from the bottom of the sea; an inscription on the wall quoting Allan Sekula´s Fish Story; sculpture 'Goldship', ca. 50x50x100 (irregular size), wireframe, gips, plaster, paper-mâché and 23.75 karat 'Rosenoble' gold leafs; HD16:9 video loop 'Material Puffin' on a 24 inch flatscreen monitor; workers performance during the Vernissage later replaced by a documentation video showed on a 12 screen flatscreen monitor during the exhibition period.  

Video documentation by Carolina Salas.

KEEP FROZEN part four was inspired by reflection on the history of the ASI art museum as an exhibition space for contemporary art that the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ) opened in 1980 as a compliment to the federation collection of paintings donated to them in 1961.  The exhibition was held on the year that marked the 100 years anniversary of the federation and a year after the Reykjavik harbour celebrated its own 100 year old birthday. Not a coincidence as the federation was born out of need after a 'working class' was born in connection to harbour activities. The idea was both to pay a tribute to the tradition of showing 'master' paintings in the space and a tribute to this engagement of workers in the contemporary art world.  Perhaps a sign of the times the federation decided to sell the exhibition space to investors in late summer 2016 and thus abandon this direct and important engagement with the contemporary art world.

 

 
Video still. Workers performance: Photo: Carolina Salas

Video still. Workers performance: Photo: Carolina Salas

 

SCULPTURE FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

On the occasion of the opening of Keep Frozen part four at ASI art museum on the Museum night 2016 in Reykjavik (05.02.2016) a group of dock workers from Reykjavik carried a trawler net from the Reykjavik midtown harbour and up to the art museum on the hill. There the workers placed the pile in the middle of Asmundarsal gallery on the 2nd floor of the museum to join the rest of the installation. 

The trawler net had been found stored in a heap after being recovered from a one-year sojourn at the bottom of the sea. It had belonged to the factory freezer trawler Vigri, the star of the documentary film Keep Frozen, who had lost the net to the sea in the winter of 2014. Coincidentally, almost exactly a year later to the day, another ship found the net and rescued it. Its colours and texture have been deeply affected by the year it spent underwater in the salty sea. The gesture of showing and transporting the net references a gesture at the first exhibition in the Keep Frozen series, Keep Frozen part one, when Gudnadóttir exhibited tiny, delicate fragments of net threads and detritus that she had found on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. 

In Asmundarsal, the heap of net took on the role of a “found sculpture” recovered from the bottom of the sea.

Installation view. 12 commissioned paintings on the wall, heap off net as a sculpture form the bottom of the sea; inscription quoting Allan Sekula's Fish Story and the sculpture 'Goldship'. Photo: Dennis Helm

Installation view. 12 commissioned paintings on the wall, heap off net as a sculpture form the bottom of the sea; inscription quoting Allan Sekula's Fish Story and the sculpture 'Goldship'. Photo: Dennis Helm

Befittingly much of the objects and gestures were developed and performed in collaboration with dock workers as a commission from the artist. Guðnadóttir commissioned a series of paintings of a worker in the Reykjavik shipyard of Reykjavik, with an emphasis on the colors and texture of ships and his expertise in the methods of ship hull painting. By chance, the contemporary painter and immigrant David Subhi was working in the shipyard at the time, and so it came to pass that a professional artist painted these paintings in his working hours as a manual labourer.  

Installation view. Part of the 12 paintings, the net heap, the 'Goldship' sculpture, the inscription from Allan Sekula and the video 'Material Puffin' on a loop on the flatscreen monitor. Photo: Dennis Helm

Installation view. Part of the 12 paintings, the net heap, the 'Goldship' sculpture, the inscription from Allan Sekula and the video 'Material Puffin' on a loop on the flatscreen monitor. Photo: Dennis Helm

Installation view. Photo: Dennis Helm.

Installation view. Photo: Dennis Helm.

Coral is porous, and salt from the sea leaches through the dead walls. Gold neither oxidizes nor reacts with salts easily: it is one metal that is impervious to the sea. If ships were made of gold, rather than steel, they would not need to be continually re-encrusted with paint. If ships had been made of gold, rather than wood, Cortés could have stayed home.
— Allan Sekula. Fish Story.
Installation view. Detail. Photo: Dennis Helm

Installation view. Detail. Photo: Dennis Helm