This article was first printed in PETRIe 66 (2014). Part three of a five-part article.
In 1996, three final year students at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts first combined creative forces. Little did the witty and artistic trio - Eirún Sigurdardóttir, Jóní Jónsdóttir and Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir - know, but The Icelandic Love Corporation they formed would still be producing dynamic multi-disciplinary artwork almost 20 years later.
Proving three heads can often be better than one, the experimental pieces created by the trio exhibit the levels of diversity found only in collaboration. From sculpture and costume design to large group performances, the process behind each piece can only be discussed on its individual merits: “Can we talk about a specific image?” the ILC ask.
Ten years after the group’s inception, singer Björk asked the ILC to design the cover and insert artwork for her 2007 album 'Volta'. Many of the crochet costumes created by the ILC are seen as wearable sculptures rather than masks. The ‘Wild Woman Voodoo’ sculpture that initially caught Bjork’s attention offers clear example: “That sculpture is on our website. It’s displayed when it is not worn, but she just put it on.”
Experimenting with identity, this particular work explores the desire to decorate oneself: “It was just taking makeup and lipstick a little bit further,” the ILC explain. Creating without an end product in mind, the ILC were able to adopt a primitive way of operating - “like children when they are playing with colours,” they laugh - adding that, “if you walk far enough, you end up in wildlife.” With Mardi Gras, Rio de Janeiro and the circus referenced as just a few sources of inspiration, the ILC note that in extreme decoration, “the human body takes on an entirely different form.”
In other projects, however, where the ILC have utilised masks, they have done so not to create identity, but to suppress it: “Sometimes we use them to make one identity of many; to unite them.” During their performance this year at the Icelandic Arts Centre - a large multi-sensory piece entitled ‘Think Less, Feel More’ - their audience was made to wear black and don motorcycle helmets on arrival. “We were, in a sense, controlling their own identity,” the ILC begins. “They became this one mask, a block of identity-less people. We wanted to let them experience how it is to be part of a group where your identity doesn’t matter.” Projecting pictures of the audience en masse, members were invited to question their identities afresh.
Perhaps the most intriguing way the trio uses the mask is in the creation of the ILC as a separate identity in itself. Three artists, each with their own body of work, have joined together; reformulating their individual ideas into a distinct yet unified way of thinking - an entirely new identity. Refusing to dissect the input of each member or highlight favourite pieces, they prefer to see their work as a whole; the artists view the ILC “as a being in itself, which we are helping to stay alive.”
“It’s that game of flickering between your own personality into some other realm. Whether we are using masks or not, it is really unclear if we are ourselves in a specific role. The ILC is a specific character,” they explain, concluding with one last juxtaposed image, “like a child... or Frankenstein.”
Archive: PETRIe INVENTORY 66
Words: Elizabeth Neep
Images courtesy of The Icelandic Love Corporation