7 Nov 2009 - 14 Mar 2010
For her first UK solo exhibition, Elín Jakobsdóttir presents a sequence of objects, photographs and films which imbue everyday sights and experiences with the inscrutable logic of the subconscious.
Produced directly beneath the gallery space in Stills' darkrooms, Janus (2009) comprises twenty-four individual black-and-white prints assembled in the format of a storyboard or filmstrip. In Roman mythology the two-faced deity Janus signified spatial and temporal transitions, a god of gateways representing the midpoint between different states, places and epochs. Jakobsdóttir's photographs depict the public terrain of parks, streets and graveyards, subtly skewed as if refracted through psychic space prior to inscription through the camera's lens. Scale is repeatedly switched to unsettling effect; in one framed instance an honorific statue tilts precariously, as if uprooted from its plinth, to hover against a dense thicket of trees. In others, fragments of petrified gestures are momentarily glimpsed in the reflective poses of an anonymous male figure. Taught electricity wires become ley lines through the city reflecting the means by which the urban environment is imprinted upon memory as system of connections. The notion of passage is returned to in her three-dimensional works simply constructed from wood, paper and glass. Reappearing as filmic props, each form reverberates throughout the exhibition to build a cumulative charge.
Jakobsdóttir's film works capture condensed scenarios, silently flitting between documentary processes and the oblique approaches of the imagination. Moving amongst three projections in the dimmed lower gallery, the viewer is cast into a spectral limbo. Presented upon a floor-mounted wooden screen, Worktable (2003) begins with a recording of the deliberate actions of a young boy absorbed in play. Moving across the paper's blank expanse, his crayon carefully traces the floor plan of an invented building. Synchronised upon the obverse, Worktable 2 (2009) shows the same boy, now an adolescent, seated at one end of a divided table facing a man two generations older. Their actions are obscured from one another as they delineate architectural and spatial configurations through gesture and drawing. Again, these visual fragments suffuse apparently commonplace incidents with a dreamlike logic. The shifting point of intersection between imagination and reality is carefully articulated through the different approaches adopted by the three characters as they variously seek to project the inner workings of the creative mind onto the external world of material fact.
Work and play, contemplation and fantasy are also referenced in the third work, where the domestic interiors of Glasgow tenements are exchanged for the post-industrial urban landscape of Berlin. Shot on 16mm film and transferred to DVD, Horsebox (2009) glimpses the life journey of what Jakobsdóttir describes as an 'imaginary object' as it makes its way from a wood workshop through streets still marked with allusions to the Wedding district's electricity-producing heyday. At first resembling an instructional documentary, the film's rational narrative subtly slips into the absurd as two workers process the large box-like object through the city. A crate, a sideboard, a magician's stand, a coffin; any potential function is undermined, the pale blank surface and simple construction defying identification. Only when minds wander do such objects pop into consciousness. Through film Jakobsdóttir has rendered the amorphous notion manifest, inserting it into the viewer's imagination to continue its journey.
Born in Selfoss, Iceland, Elín Jakobsdóttir is currently based in Glasgow and Berlin.