Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir's Chromo Sapiens

For Iceland’s Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir (also known as Shoplifter) has transformed an empty warehouse in Giudecca into an eye-popping space overgrown with rainbow-coloured synthetic hair.  

Showcasing her interest in pop culture and love of rural Iceland’s tectonic beauty, Arnardóttir’s ‘Chromo Sapiens’ blurs the boundaries between theatre, visual art and fashion. Stalactites of neon hair tumble down into her cave-like landscape and invite the viewer to critique the role of textiles in interior space.

Arnardóttir’s hypernatural environment consists of three chambers: Primal Opus, Astral Gloria and Opium Natura. Primal Opus is a dark passage emanating volcanic earthy hues; Astral Gloria is covered in bright neon-coloured hair tufts; and Opium Natura is aligned with white and pastel-coloured hair. Throughout each of the chambers, music from the Icelandic band HAM is played, creating a multi-sensory environment designed to distort the senses.

Arnardóttir’s Chromo Sapiens illustrates the transformative role of textiles in urban environments. “Shoplifter has developed unique ways of working with textiles in space to critical acclaim and tremendous public appreciation,” says Curator of the Icelandic Pavilion, Birta Guðjónsdóttir. “It is indeed exciting to see our continuing collaboration take us to Venice where she mounts her largest installation to date, a site-specific emotive and contemplative experience. One enters the pavilion as Homo Sapiens and exits as Chromo Sapiens.”

Arnardóttir’s Chromo Sapiens is exhibited at the Venice Biennale until 4th November 2019.

All image credits: Elisabet Davidsdottir 

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