Katrín Sigurðardóttir: Supra Terram

12 June - 8 August 2015

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is delighted to present Katrín Sigurðardóttir: Supra Terram, the Icelandic artist’s first major exhibition in a public London institution.

Supra Terram is a large and ambitious cavernous structure that extends through the ceiling of the ground-floor gallery into the one above. The ceiling/floor between the foundation’s lower and upper galleries seems to slice horizontally through the sculpture. Although influenced by the artist’s fascination with folly architecture, the work itself is inspired by Sigurðardóttir’s interest in the dichotomies of perception present in nearly all matters of life. Such binaries have been at the core of most of her works, from Boiserie, 2010–2011, an installation she created for an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to Foundation, 2013, which she built for the Icelandic pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

From the Latin term for ‘going above ground’, Supra Terram resembles a natural subterranean cave and a man-made grotto. This site-specific work is the artist’s response to the two floors of exhibition space at Parasol unit, where visitors must move between the lower and upper galleries to fully discover and mentally unify the two parts of the sculpture. A sequence of experiences unravel as visitors encounter a disorientating shift in scale, from being somewhat overwhelmed by the cavernous structure in the lower gallery to being in a position to look down at the tip of it emerging through the floor of the upper gallery.

Structurally, Supra Terram was developed by the application of paper pulp over a wire-form supported on a wooden framework. As daylight passes into the cavity space through the translucent membrane it gives the work a lightness that contradicts its apparent mass. The outer skin, thin as a line, defines the huge structure. This ghostly, ethereal piece exists more as a thought than a real space – a transient rendering of a dislocated place.

A ubiquitous feature in both art and literature, especially those of Greek and Roman mythology, a cave or grotto is often portrayed as an ambiguous place that lends itself to repose or is seen as a sanctuary with mystical connotations. Yet, at the same time they also doubled up as dwellings, featured as theatrical backdrops, or were used for other forms of public recreation, all of which disturb our generally held concepts of private and public space. Such double-edged aspects are apparent in most of Katrín Sigurðardóttir’s installations: one part illusionistic surface, the other the physical reality of its construction. Through building fictional architecture, the artist explores the effects of physical structures and boundaries on perceived reality, using the language of architecture and sculpture to evoke profound experiences.

This exhibition, curated by Ziba Ardalan, Founder/Director of Parasol unit, is accompanied by a unique limited edition print.


Parasol unit appreciates the kind and generous support of Creative Capital, Ingunn Wernersdóttir, the Icelandic Art Center and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Iceland.


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