Naked Icelandic Art Student Spends a Week in a Glass Box

Audience members gifted the artist with toilet paper, thankfully.

Icelandic art student Almar Atlason spent a week in a box as part of a performance live-streamed on YouTube. Photo: mbl.is/Golli.
Icelandic art student Almar Atlason spent a week in a box as part of a performance live-streamed on YouTube. Photo: mbl.is/Golli.
Icelandic art student Almar Atlason spent a week in a box as part of a performance live-streamed on YouTube. Photo: mbl.is/Golli.

Icelandic art student Almar Atlason spent a week in a box as part of a performance live-streamed on YouTube.
Photo: mbl.is/Golli.

Artists often put themselves on display, but Almas Atlason really let it all hang out in his recent stint as a living sculpture: the Icelandic art student has just spent a week sitting naked in a glass box.

The performance piece was Atlason’s final exam for a course at the Iceland Academy of Arts in Reykjavik. Something about endurance-based performance art, like Shia LaBeouf’s epic #AllMyMovies, or Marina Abramović‘s 2014 show at London’s Serpentine Gallery, seems extra impressive given our increasingly short attention spans and growing distractibility. Add nudity into the mix, and you’re got an instant recipe for viral success.

The work recalls stunts from magician David Blaine, who spent 44 days in a glass box suspended over the River Thames in 2003, or performance pieces by actresses Milla Jovovich and Tilda Swinton. The former hung out in a glass box at the 2013 Venice Biennale, while the later slept in a glass box at New York’s Museum of Modern Art that same year.

Icelandic art student Almar Atlason spent a week in a box as part of a performance live-streamed on YouTube. Photo: mbl.is/Golli.

Icelandic art student Almar Atlason spent a week in a box as part of a performance live-streamed on YouTube.
Photo: mbl.is/Golli.

But where Swinton, Blaine, and Jovovich remained fully clothed, Atlason opted to wear his birthday suit, completely exposing himself to visitors. Throughout the week, Atlason accepted gifts from audience members, including food, playing cards, and yes, toilet paper.

“He is in good hands there at the university,” noted his wife, Salka Valsdottir, to the Daily Mail.

Icelandic art student Almar Atlason spent a week in a box as part of a performance live-streamed on YouTube. Photo: mbl.is/Golli.

Icelandic art student Almar Atlason spent a week in a box as part of a performance live-streamed on YouTube.
Photo: mbl.is/Golli.

“It’s about a total loss of control and being in the hands of others,” Atlason explained to the Daily Mail. “I think it’s basically just something really cool. On many levels, it’s an experiment. It’s a bit weird being 23 years old and never having been alone for a week.”

After his week-long incarceration, Atlason, whose emergence was met by quite the crowd, was not in the mood to conduct extensive interviews with the press. “Thank you, and I’m going out for a cigarette,” he told the Iceland Monitor.


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