LJÓSVAKI // ÆTHER
Dahlshúsið Eskifirði 2019
In collaboration with Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir
Exhibition Text by Lauren Hall:
The artists who have made this exhibition for us have spent time observing, experimenting, recording, investigating, as scientists, conservators or explorers. The works we have in this show are not only things the artists made, but also objects, images, and sound that fall into categories like we heard, they found, or he noticed.
Icelandic Spar demonstrates the polsrisation of light. Unpolarised light passing through the crystal divides in two rays, appearing to double objects seen through the crystal. After its discovery here, two halves are glued together by Scottish scientish William Nicol, to make the first polarising prism. He glues them together using Canada balsam, a turpentine made with the resin from a balsam fir tree. It’s amorphous solid when dried (like glass), and does not crystalise with age. This prism causes light to divide between an ordinaryand extraordinary ray.
Nicol started his career assisting his uncle, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh whose blindness required help for his optics demonstrations. A career spent guiding someone through the dark, and allowing us to see multiple perspectives from a solitary ray of light.
Maybe that’s what artists do, generally; sort through the ordinary to present us with the extraordinary. Reflect something back to ourselves, through a lens particular to them.
Selma and Sirra take me to the quarry and tunnel at Helgustaðanáma, and we bring Skonsa, the blind dog, who cheerfully participates in our searching through the rocks and crystals. We pick them up, wash them in the waterfall, hold them up to the light, place them back down in a slightly different place. The dog doesn’t like when someone moves to a higher elevation, maybe it’s unnatural or confusing to think of us in three dimensions when she’s already working so hard to imagine us on a singular plane.
I have a hard time understanding how an alum crystal can grow overnight from a liquid to an object.
We walk, crouching, into the tunnel and Skonsa doesn’t come in very far, maybe it’s the lack of heat from the sun, so she waits outside while we go in with flashlights. The sound of gently cascading water at the end of the tunnel echoes around our heads. It clinks and tinkles down, and the water sounds like the crystals it touches.
The beach outside this gallery sparkles in a similar way to the quarry, with bits of glass glinting in the sunlight. It’s an unnatural intrusion into the landscape but still has some of the same magic. Humans seem compelled to investigate sparkling objects; they’re mysterious, they hold value, can be traded for other valuable things. We put gold leaf on picture frames, put coloured glass in our windows, cut and polish gemstones and wear them on our bodies. A person described as having a spark in their eye is usually thought of as intelligent and kind.
These two artists have allowed themselves to follow their curiosity, and so here we get to see the world as they see it, through a collection of objects and experiences. You hold the spar up to the sun and it sparkles differently than glass…it’s a particular view or ray of light and so is this exhibition. We’re in the dark so we can see more clearly.