Saemundur Thor Helgason presented solo exhibition ‘ÁVÖXTUN%’ (Rate of Return) at Reykjavik Art Museum, curated by H.K. Rannversson and running January 15 to February 21, 2016. The show was a product of the artist’s decision to seek financial advice from all the banks in Iceland on how to invest the money given to him on the occasion of the exhibition as an artist’s fee.
Helgason has shown recently with online curatorial platform Cosmos Carl in an presentation that based its structure, spatially and temporally on eBay, and in group show Dissent As an iPhone App, which aqnb reviewed earlier this year. He describes the show and its surrounding project as a part of an ongoing attempt to live from his artistic practice. ÁVÖXTUN%’ (Rate of Return) is also another iteration of the artist’s work that is, as the press release describes, “shaped by the premise of each exhibition”. This exhibition then, was composed of large printed panels that carried Helgason’s interpretation of the advice he sought from each bank, laid out and displayed in the space.
The artist explains further:
“To avoid any material costs completely, and also to maximize the return of my fee, I approached ARTIS marketing solutions, an Icelandic printing company that specializes in large format advertising. I offered them the exhibition space to promote their business and in return they printed the suggestions of the banks for free.”
The exhibition is marked by the aesthetics of the market which is mirrored in Helgason’s choice of promotional material. Videos that were installed and made viewable from outside the exhibition space also borrow from the aesthetics of advertising used in financial businesses.
Starring Sigurður Àmundason, an Icelandic performance artist dressed in smart clothing, the videos depict a young businessman, either walking around, talking on the phone or peeking out from behind one of the distinctive pillars of the Reykjavik Art Museum. The videos function as documentation of the exhibition space as well as adverts for the sponsoring companies that Helgason got on board, which somehow twists a type of art critique that we might usually associate with this kind of aesthetic inside out: This is art wondering about the role of art in marketing.**
Header image: Saemundur Thor Helgason, ÁVÖXTUN % (Rate of Return) (2016). Exhibition view. Courtesy the artist and Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik.