Lost and Found
What is the significance of a sheeps horn? What is its purpose and context once it has been removed from the head that defined it? What is the sense behind the strange little pieces of plastic that parents vacuum up from their carpets? Reality has no definition until men define it. Babies are born with an obsession to name and categorize they attach meaning to every scrap and twig and plastic snippet, to sheep horns, bones and shells. For centuries, a sheep horn to an Icelandic child symbolized livestock. In todays toy chest, the sheep horn has lost its historical status. Our uninformed child is liberated from its original worth and relevance in rural culture.
The artist puts himself in the role of the child and frees objects from their contextual prisons. Play is a prerequisite of creativity. In play we can become speechless, free from the prison of words, and connect through the boundaries of definitions, pertinence and age.
Ólöf Nordals game involves placing life into plastic and plastic into life. Merging nature and civilization is occurring all around us and within us. It is the essence of this era. Once we obsessively differentiated between all things, recorded their species and geneses and felt we had conquered reality. Now the emphasis is on that which unites everything – cells and genes and the tiniest chemical particles. Everything is one thing, flowing from one source and unified in the open minds of the child and the artist.
Here in these works is an impartial, hilarious and yet consequential reconciliation – an agreement on three levels – not only between playthings from two eras, but also between the indigenous and the global, the morphological and the man-made or between the natural and the cultural.
Nordals ideas are expressed as digital photographs. She has effected the scale of the objects with the help of technology, thereby altering their innate character. The pieces are no longer actual sculptures, but rather a two-dimensional documentation of their existence. This is exactly how modern man increasingly experiences life. We receive endless stimulus from cyberspace, distorted in scale and physicality. Which is then truly Real: this virtual reality, or the other ever more ephemeral one felt surely at birth, in passion and in death?
Written in connection with Ólöf Nordal´s exhibition Gold at Gallery Hlemmur, Reykjavík, 2002
© Halldóra Kristín Thoroddsen