Egill Sæbjörnsson to Represent Iceland at the 57th Venice Biennale

The Icelandic artist's experiential work renders complexities tangible.

Egill Sæbjörnsson. Photo courtesy Icelandic Arts Center.

Egill Sæbjörnsson. Courtesy of the Icelandic Arts Center.

Visual and performance artist Egill Sæbjörnsson has been chosen to represent Iceland at next year’s prestigious Venice Biennale, the Icelandic Art Center, commissioning body of the Icelandic Pavilion, has announced.

Egill Sæbjörnsson is a visual artist, performer, musician, and composer living and working in Berlin and Reykjavik. His work blurs the boundaries between the real and the illusory through exploring the “magic” of technology, playing with projected video and sound in surprising combinations that demand complex considerations from the audience. But while his work is experiential and prompts dense ontological questions, it frames them in a ways that render such themes accessible.

Among the members on the selection committee were the Director of the Icelandic Art Center, Björg Stefánsdóttir; Hlynur Hallsson, Director of Akureyri Art Museum, and artist Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir. According to the jury, “The inventiveness and humor of Egill Sæbjörnsson’s project, as well as his ability to bring together divergent worlds through the use of different media and platforms to create an immersive environment where the real and concrete intersects with the imagined and the fantastic, will engage the audience of the Venice Biennale in 2017 and beyond with its layered sensorial universe and relevant reflections on our contemporary world.”

Egill was nominated for the Carnegie Art Awards in 2010 and his works can be found in several private collections and museums around the world. Recent public works include Steinkugel, a permanent public art work for the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, and Cascade, an extended light installation for the Kunstmuseum Ahlen.

Opening May 2017, the Icelandic Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale will be overseen by Stefanie Böttcher. The art historian and curator, who has been the Artistic Director of the Kunsthalle Mainz since June 2015, has said of Sæbjörnsson’s selection, “I am convinced that the visitors will be totally captivated by experiencing Egill Sæbjörnsson’s work. Once they are in, they will become part of it.”

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