MAstars 2010: Eva Isleifsdottir, MFA Sculpture

MAstars 2010: Eva Isleifsdottir, MFA Sculpture Eva Isleifsdottir, Króna, 2010. Aluminum. Credit: Eva Isleifsdottir

Kate Gray selects Eva Isleifsdottir from Edinburgh College of Art for MAstars

'Because he stands all day outdoors, he knows everything.'

Eva Isleifsdottir graduated this year from the Sculpture department in the Edinburgh College of Art MFA Programme. Within her degree show she presented a range of works, including casts, photographs and film. The show attracted my attention, as it seemed to cut against the grain of perceived norms of the degree show presentation where students fight for a defined solo space. She presented a series of separate works spread over a series of spaces. Although they were not all in the same physical space, there was a sense of unseen connections between them, so that they acted in a sense more as a group show (which is after all the character of any degree show). The alchemical quality of the works intrigued me and I found that they served as nodes in my encounters with the other works around them.

In her work as a whole Isleifsdottir suggests an investigation of the relationship between the commercial and charitable. The economic crisis is obviously at the forefront of graduating students' minds for many reasons. The works include 'Króna' (2010), an oversized and contorted coin, 'Laughing Mary' (2010), an assemblage, and 'Our souls, arseholes' (2010), a series of photographic images, all of which together seem to question our overall sense of value; the value of money and our relationship with it, both as an agent of control and as a source of liberation.

In conversation Isleifsdottir cites the book On humour by Simon Critchley as a reference and talks about the 'nether eye' as well as 'reality tunnels' (apparently made up of the library of information that a person has gathered since birth). It is obviously too early to make pronouncements about her practice, but her use of humour as a methodology, linked with pop science and the uncanny, made me feel that the work operated in an interesting context. It could be said that jokes are an expression of an abstract relation to the world; humour and performing tricks (or 'magics' as Isleifsdottir calls them) may then be a ploy to distract us from reality and hold us off-kilter just long enough to glance sideways at our normal position.

'I like assembling a dialogue of symbols, from imagery of the everyday environment and more universal symbols. I am fascinated by the way in which we come to believe & what makes us arrive at that point; to believe is maybe a simple gesture of giving space?' (Isleifsdottir)

I was intrigued by this artist's 'magics' and I look forward to seeing more from Isleifsdottir. I was very pleased to hear that she is just about to contribute to this year's Annuale, Edinburgh's artist-led festival.

Selected by Kate Gray
Published July, 2010

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