The Venice Questionnaire #19: Katrín Sigurdardóttir

By ArtReview

Katrín Sigurdardóttir, Foundation, 2013, artisinal tile construction and mixed media installation.Photo: ORCH/orsenigochemollo. Courtesy the artist and the Icelandic Art Center

ArtReview sent a questionnaire to a selection of the artists exhibiting in various national pavilions of the Venice Biennale, the responses to which will be published over the coming days. Katrín Sigurdardóttir is representing Iceland. The pavilion is at Palazzo Zenobio Collegio Armeno Moorat, Raphael Dorsoduro, 2596, Fondamenta del Soccorso

What can you tell us about your plans for Venice?

Well, they are no longer plans, as the work is almost done. I am continuing to work with place and memory, but in this project, similar to the works I made for the Met in 2010, this is not an intimate memory or a personal place, rather a cultural memory. It’s not exactly historical fiction, but still it’s an unorthodox use of history, akin to how I mine the discipline of architecture in this work and many previous works.

Are you approaching the show in a different way to how you would with a ‘normal’ exhibition?

I approach every exhibition differently; there is always a new context, just as there is always a new floor plan. This work is borne out the possibilities that I saw in the location I selected. There is somehow not a way to separate the two.

What does it mean to ‘represent’ your country? Do you find it an honour or problematic?

Not problematic at all. The Pavilion of Iceland in Venice is an international project, but I’m very pleased to get to do a project on this scale with so many of my Icelandic colleagues and friends involved. And, it’s nice to feel such unanimous support and joy from Iceland for my work.

What audience are you addressing with the work? The masses of artist peers, gallerists, curators and critics concentrated around the opening or the general public who come through over the following months?

I don’t decide whom I am addressing, I never do. My work is intended equally for anyone who lays their eyes on it, and I believe people only reflect themselves and their own thoughts in the work. So the work is likely to provoke different readings to different people. In addition, the show in Venice will continue to develop, as the piece will travel to Reykjavík and New York, so I don’t even see the work specifically for the audience in Venice.

What are your earliest or best memories of the biennale?

The first biennale I saw was shamefully late, but it was a good one. Francesco Bonami's show in 2003, which was an eye opener.

You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?

I look forward to seeing the work of several friends who are also exhibiting – and celebrating with them. Then I most look forward to learning about artists and works that are new to me.