ELÍN HANSDÓTTIR














DEN FRIE REFINED
2014
Den Frie Center of Contemporary Art
Copenhagen, Denmark.

printed curtain, photographs, videos.

in collaboration with artist Margrét Bjarnadóttir


Beyond Reach 
group show with works by:
AVPD, Bank & Rau, benandsebastian, Margrét Bjarnadóttir & Elín Hansdóttir.



Margrét Bjarnadóttir & Elín Hansdóttir are a visual artist and choreographer. They cannot be described as a duo as such, since they usually work separately, but they have collaborated on several installations and spatial interventions in Berlin. In Beyond Reach they use one of the rooms at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art as primary material in their investigation of perception and performativity. Based on a photographic reproduction of the empty room printed on a large curtain, they have created a site- speci c work – albeit ironically made in Iceland. As they say themselves: ”a site-speci c work ... from a distance”.

With the curtain as a backdrop in their photographic and video works, they intervene in J. F. Willumsens octagonal hall so the space disintegrates and is then restored again. With the anagram DENFRIE REFINED as the title and introduction to their work, they strive to both repossess and reuse the space by turning what we see and what we believe we see upside down. What is the real space, and what is an illusion?

With three video works – one created in Iceland and two on site at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art – and a series of photographs, they subject the space to performative investigations. Margrét Bjarnadóttir & Elín Hansdóttir perform as the investigating gures in the videos – or as shadow gures in the space itself. The curtain depicting the room it hangs in becomes
a piece of scenery framing the actual room. Curtains or theatre drapes are a familiar and frequent motif in art history - the suggestion of a stage curtain that is opened or closed to either conceal or reveal. In the theatrical art of the Baroque, for example, the curtain was used to represent the staging of reality and to emphasise the work as a work of art. Here the curtain is used to deceive the eye of the viewer and remove the illusion – it can be opened and closed as both the videos and photographic works demonstrate.

The installation here focuses on the actual perception of the space – or the empty space where our habitual and rational understanding of space is challenged – rather than on the viewer’s participation and presence in the room. This marks a departure from their earlier works, where Elín Hansdóttir in particular has worked explicitly with space in the form of vast installations that directly involve the viewer.

According to the artists themselves, their different educational backgrounds add another layer to their collaborative projects. What they produce together is far removed from the expressive forms they use when working individually. When they work together
they make all decisions together, and avoid focussing on their individual professions, thus suspending their respective elds of expertise. Most of the work in Beyond Reach was produced in just two days. They see the work as an experiment, the basis or raw material for which was almost dogmatically a single photographic representation of a single room taken from a single angle – a single perspective.