A Theatre of Dramatic and

Curative magic

By Chiara Bersi Serlini

Printed in a catalouge for the exhibition

Behind the Eyes, at The Living Art Museum

Reykjavik, 2004.

    This exhibition of ILC new works examines a whole range of the media in which ILC have been engaged in the past seven years. Some of the works examine different aspects and highlight points of disjunture as well as many continuities and cross-fertilizations. As part of this, a strong focus has been given to the context of ILC development and to the many different strands of thought which have been of influence.

ILC are syncretistic artists who have used performance, object, video and sound installations at different points in the development of their art as expressions and explorations of the particular kinds of energy which drive their work.

In eastern thought, in order to transform, one must first empty the mind. For seven years ILC have used the techniques of emptying and transforming to create the conditions in which the transition of both the artist and the public into a different state can occur.

Without nostalgia for the past, ILC seem particularly receptive to their art practice. And all the artworks seem to deal directly with reality and used process, in a playful way. Any physical form is not an aesthetic object to contemplate or be contemplated, but is materialization of a mental operation.

At the same time, Iceland's particular cultural temperament, which may be described as a tendency towards deeply emotional intimate confessions, at least in visual art, must also be acknowledged as matrix to the ILC work.

Here art is like a device to which break mental and emotional habits. Transience and irony are little discussed but important aspects of ILC work, perhaps because of a self-confessed baroque mind. Sound, objects, video, drawings and environments all operate like a mirror onto which the public project themselves.

Video enters the ILC art through performance initially, sharing aspects of the performance and the costumes designed for it, and developing as a "live" medium from its initial tool as documentary tool.

At some point the ILC were kissing live on TV and Sigrun kissed the glass of the camera broadcasting a message of love and freedom to the country. At some other point, ILC appear in a video all dressed in white: emitting from the background are the sea, rocks and the wind, in hope again to evoke the public of their inner emotions and memories of their own characters. The tension created by the sense of tragic and suffocation which results from images of one of them falling down a cliff and being rescued by some human beings presents an image of resistance to inevitable separation.

In their performing field, ILC create mental structure in which to interact with the public. Taken from a drawing animation presented in this exhibition, Sympathy, a pair of special shoes appear with tall polished needles on the sole and white long silk ribbons as laces. Curiosity struggles against physical discomfort, giving energy to the viewer in order to get something back from the artwork. The energy captured in the animation somehow transcends into three-dimensional form.

Objects have appeared previously in their work, sometimes representing the concentration of emotions and metaphors and at other times simply as symbols of transformation. Laces serve as metaphor for wild mind, a string wall piece expresses a sensitivity to the vibrations of the silence within the piece, and curtains suggest representation of transformation.

The ILC objects have a stillness, but they do not read easily as sculpture since they operate like tools waiting to be used. Or having just being used they may be seen as fetish. Most sculptures seem to be there to strike a contact between artists and public. Here the artist and the public reach a same status, asking the public to be engaged with them and follow the threads that would bring to a deeper meaning.

Conjunction is a word for enlightenment, which ILC seem to want to reach and convey with their poems and performances. There are some powerful objects in the show. These also have a function in they operate on a mental rather than physical level, somewhere between human and non-human use. Like vessels of their message of love and struggle for deep awareness.

On one hand, the ILC work is very freewheeling and intuitively derived. On another it is rigorous and imbued with strict inner order. Though a matrix of irony permeates the show, as well as a sense of realism balancing the works with the environments.

It is also through sound that we are to perceive the show. Disembodied voices come out from a room, creating a frightening sense of displacement. This aggressive sound operates as alarm and surprise to the public perception.

This process also attempts to make a clear division between the ideas of good and bad by concealing dark corners in the "calm" environment and visions of purity in the dark video room. As the visitor progresses, the more we are liberated by preconceptions and removed from our ideas.

The transitional motifs in the show all seem to convey the importance of the emptying process by which the artists and the public have been repeatedly placed in a state of preparation to enter another physical and mental level of being.

According to tradition, certain Buddhist monks would go to a strong waterfall and sit under it to meditate. After some time, the waterfall's constant sound and pressure blanked out their thoughts. When they eventually left, they experienced silence at a new level. The violence of the sound here evokes a similar process both physically and metaphorically. The viewer undergoes a visual emptying in order to come to another mental and physical state, in which silence is even sweeter than they had remembered.

Chiara Bersi Serlini lives and works in London. 30/07/03