Steady now (2022)
“Oh steady now
Everything in its place
Steady now” - Jason Molina (Magnolia Electric Co. – Steady Now)
There is a place for the inside and there is a place for the outside, the artist Brák Jónsdóttir has made a place for the parts in between, a filter to blur these borders. In the exhibition, there are two wooden structures placed precariously in the windows of the gallery, intuitively yet carefully constructed, shelf by shelf. Brák has embraced the history and previous function of the wooden material, with its blemishes and sun bleached spots. What was perhaps once a bookshelf or cupboard is now an open scaffolding displaying glass panes, jars and ornaments, filled with unspecific specimens of the land around Nýp. Within these jars and containers is where the outside is contemplated, she has collected stones, seaweed, leaves, rotten wood and other items from around the exhibition site, just as she collected the wood and glass to house them. These objects are brought inside and they play with our focus of the outside, a filter or a threshold to pinpoint the vague idea of ones surroundings.
This installation contemplates the very human act of displaying objects of intrigue and beauty, referencing the history of cabinets of curiosity and their amalgamation of science and art. Whilst these cabinets suggest hiddenness and sacredness, Brák’s open and fragile structure allows for ethereal and abstract notions to be displayed. There are shadows and lines cast by the stained glass. There is water with its unknown origin, evaporating and blending with plants and remnants of wood and stone. There is the colour of the glass that changes with the daylight. You can look at what is within these jars, or just as easily peak through to where they once existed, in sight but out of reach. She has taken moments of intrigue and inquiry, experimenting with time and space trapped in glass and barely preserved, left to deteriorate, change, sprout and grow.
When arriving somewhere new, you gather your surroundings, collect your thoughts, and in such an affecting landscape there is plenty to gather. Brák has gathered the immaterial feeling of arriving somewhere beautiful.
Text by Joe Keys