In November 2018 I opened “Employee of the Month in Eight Steps”, my first solo show in Rýmd Gallery. This exhibition was a starting point for me to begin a conceptual inquiry and formal research into labor, time and the body in relation to the standard eight hours shift, those interests would come out later in the work that I presented at Kjarvalsstaðir during my graduation show in May 2019. The piece is named “Sweating Sofa” and it consists in a sofa sculpture made of pine wood, sponge, fabric, a metal sink, water pumps, batteries wires and water.
The description in the wall text says: sofa from a waiting room and water. The kind of sofa that I am referring to is a simple two seater sofa, this one is pastel blue with no patterns, not particularly confortable, pretty or memorable. Yet familiar to you if you have ever been in the break room of a work place or the waiting room in an institution; like the immigration office, an elderly home or a hospital. For me the sofa sculpture works as a reference, as an icon to talk about this kind of seats and the conditions of the people who sit down in them.
Among all the things that surround contemporary humans in their domestic environment the sofa is one of the most passive. The “Sweating Sofa” has an implicit action in its title, by getting wet the sofa is animated even humanised. Water is a trigger that starts to relate to tears, sweat, rain and sewage. I constantly think about my body losing water and my impossibility of being exactly the same through time which is something that happens to all things on earth. In my sculpture the water is contained in the seat cushions of the sofa. The object is self efficient, a stream of water goes in and out like in a cycle. The back of the left part of the sofa is perpetually wet while one of the seats is splashing water though the cushion. The sofa could be sweeting, peeing or crying in an exaggerated manner like in a cartoon. Here there is a body which is absent but to which is referred.
Seeing the sculpture in the space and peoples reactions helped me interrogate my decisions and address other layers in the work.. Despite the humor in the piece I had expected people to have obversion or some distance to the object but this was not the case. They encountered the sofa like they would any other sofa they touched it and they sat down on the the dry side but they did so not to rest or look at something else but more to experience the work and examen the water more closely, a self contained viewing. Water is domestic, the sofa as well, not even a space like the Reykjavík Art Museum could remove this reference of the furniture. After all, it is usual to find chairs and sofas in exhibition spaces for people to rest while watching a long video work or spend time with a painting. I find this relationship between sitting and the gaze very interesting.
There are both farcical and humanistic aspects to this work because the action that activates the object could be seen as absurd or even shameful, the sofa is making its self wet, but on the other hand it is a poetic comment on being tired, what make us feel tired and the bureaucratisation of life. For what are we waiting for?