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Jóhannes Atli Hinriksson, Mutiny

HaswellEdiger & Co. Gallery
465 West 23rd Street, 212-206-8955
January 5 - February 4, 2006
Reception: Thursday, January 5, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

In the 17th century, the Icelander Brynjolfur Fra Minnanupi wrote an account of ships that could speak. In the story, two such ships, anticipating bad weather, conspire to stay in port against their captains’ orders. In the end it is the captain’s incantation of the Devil that forces one ship to begrudgingly cast aside its mutinous ideas and set sail, only to be lost at sea.

The work of Jóhannes Atli Hinriksson, although Western in its visual assault approach to aesthetics, is still somehow rooted in the sense of drama, irony and animism found in the legends of his native Iceland. His start-stop animation videos, complete with stripped down audio tracks of howling Nordic winds, put claymation metal-heads slackers and other hybrid fuck-ups through a series of neo-Norse, mini sagas that ultimately challenge the viewer to pinpoint where destruction ends and creation begins. In the video Dr., narrative is flung aside as the artist delves deep into an obsessive and coded description of the creative process. The piece, which runs just long enough to give its cartoony facade a kind of disorienting structuralist rigor, has a possessed syringe repeatedly draw up a heroin-like substance from a blackened spoon and attempt to inject or shoot ‘paint’ onto various objects and organic elements that it finds in a basement.

Although the videos, sculptures and paintings of Hinriksson appear at times as homage to the morbid, his spontaneous approach and prolific output indicate that for him death and destruction symbolize a means by which to access the space and material required for constant creation. And like in the story of the mutinous ships, Hinriksson’s work suggests that not only is the vehicle itself (the medium) alive but that sometimes he must conjure up the Devil to keep it in line.

Related blog posts: James Wagner
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