02. November 2013 til 24. November 2013

Katrín Elvarsdóttir - Vanished summer

To be an Icelander is perhaps in sum an endless wait. To wait for spring, wait for summer. Eternal optimism despite frozen ground and mounds of ice that seem rooted deep in the bowels of the earth, so firmly that the thought of living things in the ice-capped farmyard seems far-fetched, a daydream of the romantic sort, a flight of fancy.


For those who wait pining with summer-thirst, who hoping against hope scan

land and sea for early signs of life in blasted fields and quiet woods, in silenced

summer, who seek evidence of life, of a summer that seems determined not to

come – when summer does come it comes so softly that it almost slips past, like

a fragrance of summer in the offing, gone in the time it takes to pluck and chew

a blade of grass, distractedly, in the dwindling hope of one who seeks and waits

upon silent signs of warmth and life.

Summer’s arrival, instantly gone.

Yet its traces are perceptible. Shifts in earthen colours, the changing light; all that

will go dormant again, fade and die. Seasonal dwellings: humanity itself is evidence.

We carry the vanished summer inside us and summon its images, late-summer

sun striking a new-mown field, ruddy steam curling from a stream at the edge

of the woods.

Life’s summers, vanished like everything else that never amounted to more than

a promise. And again we drink in autumn’s arrival.

The land lies quiet and poignant.

The first time I set foot in Katrín Elvarsdóttir’s studio, three years ago, I felt

as if I were stepping into a literary work. Her works tell a story and yet the

story remains untold. It’s like stepping into a narrative, into surroundings that

are foreign and yet familiar, perhaps because of how very familiar the subject

matter of Elvarsdóttir’s photographs is.

An Icelandic mobile home in an unspecified locale in a grove of trees so nameless

that you feel as if you were last there yesterday, however unlikely that might be.

A grove, the side of a house, a livingroom window, tidy carpeting neatly fitted

to teak corner trim.

Fragments of reality. Traces of life, of habitation long or brief. Life at a remove,

almost like a stage set yet not quite.

Plant-filled windows so quintessentially Icelandic, they’d be unmistakeable anywhere.

From up west in Bíldudalur? I ask. No, up west in Flateyri, says Katrín Elvarsdóttir, and

we smile – of course. But I always think of Bíldudalur when I look at that photograph.

Stories that remain untold, that you inwardly compose as you look at

Elvarsdóttir’s work.

That autumn day when I first visited her studio I felt as if I were re-experiencing

these photographs though I was seeing many of them for the first time.

It felt just like stepping into the writings of Gyrðir Elíasson.

A half-told story, ending at the full stop but leaving you hanging, with questions

on your lips and the uneasy sense that something has been left unsaid and lurks

below to creep up on you, like the sneaking suspicion that things are not as they

seem. Better shut the lid on all those uneasy chilly thoughts, and not let your

imagination run away with you. Something might be hiding around the corner,

behind the door.

We stand and ponder these windows with their potted plants and lace curtains

that block the view, but maybe we are the ones being scrutinized, from beyond

the houseplants and sheer curtains.

The Katrín Elvarsdóttir photographs presented here were not made as

accompaniments to Gyrðir Elíasson’s work; rather the spirit of his work has

been a companion to Katrín Elvarsdóttir in her travels around the countryside,

like a feast moveable in space as well as time.  (Harpa Árnadóttir)

Katrín Elvarsdóttir (b. 1964) received a BFA from the Art Institute of Boston,

Massachusetts, in 1993. Among her many solo exhibitions are Vanished Summer,

ASÍ Art Museum, Iceland, 2013; Nowhereland, Reykjavík Art Museum, Iceland, 2010;

Equivocal, Gallery Ágúst, 2010; Without a Trace, National Museum of Iceland, 2007;

and Revenants, Seventh & Second Gallery, New York, 2003. Her work has also been

shown in numerous group exhibitions around the world, including Germany, France,

Finland, Sweden and Russia. Elvarsdóttir’s book Revenants / Proximal Dimension

was published by 12 Tónar in 2005 (co-authored by M. Hemstock); her monograph

Equivocal was published in 2011 by Crymogea. In 2007 Elvarsdóttir was nominated

for The Icelandic Visual Art Copyright Association’s Honorary Award.

Elvarsdóttir’s works can be found in numerous private and public collections.


The exhibition is curated by Harpa Árnadóttir


Further information on: www.katrinelvarsdottir.com




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