Behind the Eyes of Love


The Reykjavik Grapevine

Published in: Issue 5 on Friday, August 08, 2003


On the 9th of August three artists; Eirún Sigurðardóttir, Jóní Jónsdóttir and Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir, also known as “The Icelandic Love Corporation”, will be opening a new exhibition in The Living Arts Museum called “Behind the Eyes”.
The Incorporated Love Group started as a performance art group of four back in ’96 with a happening performed in the cellar of the National Theatre. That single event wound up becoming a long and rather colourful relationship that still lasts and does not seem to be anywhere near ending, although one of the four members withdrew her partnership in the Love Corp. to run her own advertising agency. The other three continued successfully. The Love Corporation didn’t settle for just events but has made various kinds of other art as well. Their new exhibition is not just a happening but something much more, a fully blown show where the artists explore the good in bad, and the bad in good. The ILC has had exhibitions here and there in Europe, and like many Icelandic artists, received more attention abroad than at home.

Grapevine popped in at the Living Art Museum, met Eirún where she was working hard preparing for the upcoming exhibition, looked around and asked a few questions about corporate love and living art.

After strutting around the area for a short while, the interrogation begins:
“Looking around we noticed that half the exhibition is black and half is white. From what we’ve been taught black represents the bad things in this world and white the good things, but when we looked around this wasn’t the case, so what are you trying to express here?” says Grapevine, preferring to cling to clichés as this makes everything simpler.

“Well, it’s a matter of how things that some people think are bad can actually mean something good for others, and the other way around. Someone may believe that his way of doing things brings good to all and is the right thing to do, but while doing this he actually brings death and destruction. For instance, the idea: “to save the village we must destroy it”. Basically, seemingly good things can bring bad results, and seemingly bad things happening may sometimes have a very positive result.”

Grapevine, reflecting bitterly on its own internal politics, wonders about cooperation;

“There are three of you, all of you must have different ideas and views so how do you combine your thoughts into your work and at the same time avoid conflicts and their inevitable escalation into fistfights?”

“We’ve worked together for 7 years now and of course working together can sometimes be difficult, but after all these years we’ve got very used to each other and working together has come very natural to us.”
And still Grapevine asks:
“Is this exhibition what you really want to do, or is it just something you needed to do?” penetrating right to the heart of the existential dilemma.
“Like always this is exactly what we want to do for now and that’s how it is for each show we have done in the past, always exactly what we want to do.”

“But what about the name of the exhibition, “Behind the Eyes,” has it anything to do with dreaming?” says Grapevine, closing its eyes and wandering off into a land where papers write themselves, sponsors grow on trees and editorial groupies vie for favours, while somewhere in the distance the answer drones:

“No not really, your eyes see but it is your brain that understands and measures, all people understand things differently and that is what we want from the observers, to understand our art their way. That’s why we’re not trying to get one message to the people with our art, if that is what we wanted to do, we’d write an article in the paper. Instead we want people make up their own mind on what they see, understand it in their way.”

Snapping back to attention, Grapevine now asks about a subject close to its heart; money and grants. “Do you make a living out of this, or do you have other occupations?”

“Well, I teach at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, and Sigrún runs the store “Búðin” on Laugavegur, and that helps. Recently the larger companies in Iceland have finally taken some interest in supporting art with grants and now see it more as an investment than charity. A change of mind for the better, I must say. For us personally we’re lucky enough to receive a six-month artists grant from the government and also we’ve sold some of our sculpture work to large Icelandic companies. At least we’re not totally broke. But getting grants is still a major pain in the rectum.”

“About your name The Icelandic Love Corporation, how did that come about?”

“When we started we called ourselves “Gjörningaklúbburinn”, which roughly translates as “The Happenings Club”. When we started performing outside Iceland that name simply didn’t make any sense, so we came up with the Icelandic Love Corporation name. The name has sometimes caused silly misunderstandings, some people actually think we’re a “whole lotta love” escort service, or something in that direction.”

Some discussion then takes place about various happenings by the Love Corporation over the past years, at parties, weddings and even in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, but by this time Grapevine’s attention is far away, resting in the lap of editorial groupies underneath the sponsorship tree. It might be the ears that hear, but it is the mind that does the measuring and the understanding. Hence, the rest of the conversation goes unrecorded, and it is up to one and all to form his or her own impression of the works of the ILC.