– I Got Some Strange News Today
Opening: Saturday 12 December, 2020
Exhibition: 12.12.2020 – 24.01.2021
Pourbusstraat 3-5 - 2000 Antwerp
KETELEER GALLERY is very pleased to introduce I Got Some Strange News Today, the second solo exhibition by Valgerður Sigurðardóttir (°1992. Reykjavik, Iceland) with the gallery. The exhibition consists of an entirely new series of concrete and ceramic works. Valgerður, who also goes by ‘Vala’, graduated from KASK Ghent in 2018 and was a co-founder of ABC Klubhuis: an Icelandic artist-run initiative which organised exhibitions in Antwerp with young and established artists.
I Got Some Strange News Today… the start of a story we don’t get to hear –Vala’s modus operandi in a nutshell. The title points to the works as if they were clues to a hidden message. What look like banal images at first are given a halo of anticipation. A drawer with knives is being opened. Playing cards were placed on the dinner table. A handkerchief is lying on the floor (a recurring element in her new oeuvre), hiding something or left there, perhaps on purpose. Like a scene from a Hitchcock movie, every object becomes a character in a suspense thriller. However, the tension we’re feeling here is equally that of life itself. Everything could imply something mysterious, but we soon realise that we could also just be looking at the things themselves and the ordinary people who use them, which is beautiful in itself; the big little dramas of every person, moments which can simultaneously mean everything and nothing.
Vala makes heavy concrete and ceramic works, beautifully emphasizing the gravity of the everyday. She strictly uses materials which are usually used to build houses, a tactile reference to the architecture of our lives, to the way we shape our being-in-the-world. Objects play an incontrovertible role in our lives. In our dealings with the world, they become extensions of our thinking: they move us forward – mediate our handling – and become symbolically charged because of this. Objects are never dead, they can’t be to us. They make us think and dream and we bring them to life this way. It’s this appropriation and reification which results in the strange effect that some things – laden as they are with memories and meanings – become nearly impossible to part with.
Vala’s works are also light as a feather. In a child-like, seemingly naive way Vala portrays the extremely quotidian and ordinary, sometimes pushing them to the point of absurdity. Little scenes of a naked woman looking in the mirror, medicines being held in someone’s hand, or just an ordinary piece of furniture in a living room… ‘nothing’ more. The handmade tiles look like pages straight out of a children’s book – a style that cleverly steers away from weightiness without becoming meaningless.
Vala’s oeuvre is anything but a caricature. With its absence of identity, her neutral, universal imagery points to our own. It’s our imagination that runs wild, projecting all sorts of things onto what we see: a typically human quality to conjure up what isn’t there. She plays with our proclivity for interpretation, completion and association, something the title of the exhibition incites us to do a little bit more – after all, what is man without the game of imagination?
Lauren Wiggers, 2020.