The built in sign language of WEAVING

Archetypes – Weaving and blended techniques ASÍ Art Museum, Arinstofa, and Ásmundarsalur

Morgunblaðið, February 5, 20

Ingibjörg Jónsdóttir’s exhibition in the ASÍ Art Museum is in two parts. In Ásmundarsalur is a large, staged installation consisting of a number of old doors and wiring that connects them together in the space. The doors are used as archetypal symbols for the boundaries between worlds, for the openings and closings in divinity, history, or the soul. It is considered, with a reference to etymology, that doors were originally woven or braided from tree branches; this further deepens the significance of the symbol and links the installation to the works in Arinstofa, which are more closely related to conventional weaving.

The “more conventional” weavings in Arinstofa are emphatically not everyday things - quite the contrary. The materials include hair-fine silver wire, silken thread, parchment, and fragments of musical manuscript that are arranged with gossamer-thin gauze made from pineapple fibre. The works have a muted overtone, yet a prehistoric memory juxtaposed with physical proximity imbues them with energy. Under glass in the foyer is a sort of sampler of Ingibjörg’s methods, where fine DNA patterns are interwoven with shrinking threads, silver and silk. Parchment is a natural, organic skin like tissue, and clothing made of thread is what we put closest to our skin.

Weaving is one of the oldest symbols of creation, on par with pottery and sculpture: “Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb,” said David to God in the psalm, and the weaving, together with other textile references, is also used as a potent symbol in the Bible, as in other sacred texts, both older and younger. It is easy for Icelanders to refer to stories of valkyries and all sorts of woven fate, not least the grotesque weaving described in the “Darraðarljóð” in Njál’s Saga, where weapons, skulls, and entrails are the mainstays of the fabric. In its essence, the weaving is rhythmic and ritualistic; it is related to social status, verse, epic poetry, prophesy, and enchantment. The weaving is often turgid with emotion, as when Áslaug gives Ragnar Loðbrók a protective kaftan that she wove from her own grey hair as payment for the woven silver kaftan that Ragnar gave her at the beginning of their relationship.

Ingibjörg’s exhibition touches the string of prehistoric awareness and draws attention to the philosophy of the material world. The sense of material and the craftsmanship are extremely well displayed in the exhibition, and the astoundingly beautiful essence of the works in Arinstofa makes this exhibition unforgettable.

Þóra Þórisdóttir

Translation by Anna Benassi