Bo Bjerggaard

Sigurdur Gudmundsson

14 Jan - 05 Mar 2011

© Sigurdur Gudmundsson
Event, 1975
Silverprint on fiberbased paper, text
54 x 57 cm
Situations and Other Photo Works 1970 - 1982
14 January - 5 March, 2011

Every day is a series of situations, moments of truly relating to objects and people, even to Nature itself, in which we suddenly find ourselves - sometimes by chance, but often as a result of forces beyond our control. Every new situation requires a decision al-lowing us to go on in our lives, and each decision sets up a new situation in which we are constantly, endlessly trying to regain balance and control. To intentionally put oneself in a situation without understanding the potential implications or consequences is therefore to challenge one's very existence.

This is precisely what Sigurdur Gudmundsson does in his photographic work. Some of his staged Situations illustrate philosophical or artistic statements, but most of them are intuitive and not just visualizations of verbal expressions. Some are picture puzzles, as in Magritte's paintings, others are quotations from Saussure, Eco or another structuralist... but they are never imposing, never single-minded, always open-ended, convincing the viewer that there is more than just one answer, more than just one solution...

Above all, these works are children of their time, an integrated part of European conceptual art. Together they create a handbook, a manual on "How to put yourself in a situation without knowing how to get out of it." That is why it is all about what happens when all is said and done, about taking risks, about an artist's view of life.

I exhibited Gudmundsson's Situations almost twenty years ago in Malmö Konsthall,
Sweden. At that time, the oldest works in the series were already twenty years old. Ten years ago, I arranged an exhibition at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gates head, England. The now twenty-plus-ten year-old pieces comprised the main attraction.

Now it is time again! Here in Copenhagen, for the first time, we are face-to-face with a series of classical works grown from the soil of Iceland and the gutters of Amsterdam. The collection documents the artist's own situation spanning two countries; two expressions - drawings and sculpture - are visualized as photographs. The artist has moved on to other materials: bronze, glass, clams, swans (!), stone ... He once built the highest mountain in Holland for his wife Ineke with a stone from Sibbhult in Scania. But he always returns to the black and white photographs as a kind of journal from his discovery trips - or wanderings, as he would probably have called them.

I am convinced we can show Situations again ten or twenty years from now with the same positive results. The photographic works of Sigurdur Gudmundsson have a timeless actuality. They make fundamental statements about the human condition, and they contain what survivors call humor. There will always be clear reasons to expose these works to people again and again.

Sune Nordgren
Tranlation: Wordmaster

Tags: Sigurdur Gudmundsson