Egill Sæbjörnsson Hands Icelandic Pavilion to Two Trolls

The artist has been working with Ūgh and Bõögâr since 2008.

© Egill Sæbjörnsson. Courtesy of the artist and i8 Gallery.
© Egill Sæbjörnsson. Courtesy of the artist and i8 Gallery.

Iceland’s selection for the 57th Venice Biennale, artist Egill Sæbjörnsson, has chosen to hand over the creation of the 2017 Icelandic Pavilion to two Icelandic trolls, Ūgh and Bõögâr.

The trolls-turned-artists’ presentation, “Out of Controll in Venice,” will be curated by Stefanie Böttcher, director of Kunsthalle Mainz.

The exhibition will go beyond the Pavilion of Iceland, both temporally and spatially, with Ūgh and Bõögâr’s artistic productions and thoughts infiltrating viewers’ everyday lives in the hereafter as they have with the artist. This highly anticipated encounter will culminate in a large-scale and interactive presentation.

According to his “Trollbook,” Sæbjörnsson met the 36-meter-tall Icelandic trolls in 2008. The trolls have subsequently followed the artist everywhere, including to his studio space in Berlin, where they produce works and exhibit as well. Ūgh and Bõögâr have the capability to reform into other states and things, eat human beings, and, thanks to Sæbjörnsson, have a newfound appreciation for art and traveling.

In addition to his announcement, Sæbjörnsson included a link to the “Trollbook,” which illustrates his encounter and friendship with the trolls and, by following @icelandicpavilion #outofcontroll on Instagram, others can follow Ūgh and Bõögâr’s journey to Venice up until the opening in May.

Many of Sæbjörnsson’s works deal with questioning and reversing established relationships and hierarchies. His art often includes objects invigorated with animations, light, and sound to create an immersive, multi-dimensional experience.

The artist’s phantasmagorical works blur the lines between the imaginative and reality, asking, “who has the power to influence our actions, thoughts, consciousness, and creative capabilities?” His works also bring up the issue of exploitation, its subjects, and where it is being directed.

©Egill Sæbjörnsson. Courtesy of Icelandic Art Center.

©Egill Sæbjörnsson. Courtesy of Icelandic Art Center.

Curator Stefanie Böttcher had this to say regarding the presentation: “’Out of Controll in Venice’ is Egill Sæbjörnsson’s most ambitious work yet. Without noticing, we outgrow the role of passive observer and gradually grow into the artwork. Rather than following the activities of the trolls, it is we who are being followed. Rather than seeking an encounter with this world situated between imagination and reality, we are being sucked into it.”


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