Magnus Sigurdarson conceptual artist from Iceland. Fulbright scholarship recipient. MFA from Rutgers University, New Jersey in 1997. Lived and worked in New York from '96 - 2000. Now lives in Miami and shows with Pan American Art Projects. Collaborated with artist Paul Stoppi from Jamaica on operation BEEFEATER - of man and his nature, at PanAmerican in Feb 2010. The show consisted of photographs, plasticine paintings and a video.
- The Cliché of Perception:
“THE FALL OF THE PEDESTAL SENTIENCE – THE LAST STAND OF THE FABULOUS, TERRIFIC, AND SUPER”
in an association YANN QUILLIEN
There’s an unnerving sense of discomfort that comes over you the moment you step foot in a museum or exhibition space. Objects surround you on pedestals, and you can’t help but feel inadequate, unworthy of being in the presence of a urinal, or a vase, or a bust of a curly-haired man without a nose. You feel inferior standing before these lofty objects displayed before you as if to remind you of your own mediocrity. To be placed on a pedestal is a sign of success; but what is it about these basic structures that deem them worthy of assigning value to man-made objects, when they too are man-made and no different than that which they elevate?
Magnus Sigurdarson’s THE FALL OF THE PEDESTIAL SENTIENCE – THE LAST OF THE FABULOUS, TERRIFIC, AND SUPER is a witty portrayal of society’s perception and allocation of value. Stacked into a glacial-like pile stands a mammoth installation of plain white pedestals. Jutting out from various crevices are white air tubes with the words, “FABULOUS”, “TERRIFIC”. And “SUPER”. The piece is a catastrophic scene bursting with optimism, a paradox not uncommon from an artist who does not hesitate to investigate seemingly rudimentary aspects of society. “I take my everyday visual activity, stop, think, and question,” he says, “I approach art as a diagnosis of the obvious.” Sigurdarson’s objective is not to rebel against cultural norms, nor demand answers to his investigations, but rather bring to light the banality of societal structure. THE FALL OF THE PEDESTIAL SENTIENCE makes the viewer uncannily aware of artistic value judgments.
Upon further inspection of the installation, one notices that there is something askew with the pile of pedestals. They seem, and in fact are, disproportionate. Should they be stood up and an object be placed on one of them, it would sit well above or below eye-level or simply slide off falling to the ground. The pedestals in Magnus’ piece do not serve their merited function. Furthermore, the words that they proclaim are words that do not suggest artistic knowledge. To say that a work of art is fabulous, terrific, and/or super is to put up a red flag of high-art/scholarly ignorance. Yet these are words commonly used not only by the artist but all of society. What may seem like a pile of white pedestals with mediocre words of excitement is in fact an acute observation of society’s insecurity. It is what the artist refers to as a “pile of angst.”
Magnus’ career is laden with irony, as an Icelander in Miami he takes advantage of Nordic stereotypes cast upon him and transforms himself into numerous characters that explore both his and other’s perception of himself. In his video, I’m Thinking about IT… he stands before a bare background stoically stating his thoughts. He thinks about the future, he thinks about lunch, he thinks and says what he thinks, and that’s it. In a city like Miami, it is rare to come across someone unfazed by emotions, Magnus is no exception; but he takes advantage of his Icelandic persona to explore what it would be like to just say what one is thinking. Like all of his performance videos, the piece is shot in one take, is unedited and captures “the obvious.”
Born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1966, Magnus Sigurdarson graduated from the Icelandic College of Arts & Crafts. He went on to study at Studio Cecil & Graves in Florence Italy, and Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers University in New York. He has exhibited nationally at such venues as Pan American Art Projects in Dallas and Miami; Luhring Augustine in New York; and Kevin Bruk Gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach 2007. He has also obtained international recognition in countries like Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Germany and China apart from his Native Iceland. His works are in the permanent collections of The Icelandic National Gallery, The Living Art Museum, and the Reykjavik Municipal Museum, in Reykjavik, Iceland; the MDD Museum Dhondt-Dhaenes, in Gent, Belgium; The Collezione La Gaia in Busca, Italy; The Focus Group Corporate Collection in New York, The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Collection, and the Public Collection of the Related Group in Miami, USA among others. He currently lives and works in Miami.
Text by: Carolina Marquez