Subselves Mean Well by Arnfinnur Amazeen, in Gallery D at Reykjavík Art Museum – Hafnarhús. Exhibitions in Gallery D at Hafnarhús focus primarily on artists who have not previously held one-person shows in Iceland’s major galleries.
This was one of those unexpected finds that benefitted from the element of surprise, so definitely a bonus! feeling although not the pure goodWOW type. Then again, art isn’t necessarily about making us feel comfortable. I came around the corner, after having been through much of the rest of the museum, and felt almost physically assaulted by the whiteness of the room. SO. WHITE. painfully, glaringly, stark, white. I wanted to turn around and walk out, but scooted through quickly, with a sideways glance at the structure and (!) chickens. The chickens didn’t help, as chickens have always seemed creepy to me. Outside the other entrance was an exhibit placard, reading that calmed me down some – I have positive associations with reading – and getting some idea of the person and ideas behind the installation made me willing to give it some more time.
At that point I’d also become somewhat acclimatized to the WHITE, and was able to notice and appreciate the various words cut in the chickens and the shadows they cast. There were also two posters on the wall – yay! more reading – one with “KILL YOUR INNER (various fill-in-the-blank)” – the other with “EMBRACE YOUR INNER (various fill-in-the-blank)”. ah yes, the monotonous round of everyday life and the contradictory role of the person within. What voices do we listen to?
WHICH! as I wandered around a bit more, I noticed there were headphones hanging on the back of the raft-like structure. I put them on, and a disembodied voice (the artist?) was inside my head, reading the lines on the posters – sometimes conversational, others a whisper or sinister hiss, punctuated by mouth noises not quite chewing or smacking of the lips but somewhere in between, ruminating over the words, giving them both more and less meaning. Hypnotic and disturbing. I can’t honestly say that I liked this, but it definitely has stuck in my head.