Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir (PhD) is Professor and MA programme director at the Iceland University of the Arts. Mark Wilson (PhD) is an artist and a Professor in Fine Art at the University of Cumbria, Institute of the Arts, UK. „For the last twenty years, the collaborative artist team, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson, has been practicing and producing in the field of contemporary art on an international stage with projects and exhibitions in the UK, Europe, Australia, and the USA. They have built a reputation, resonant in many fields – in contemporary art, animal studies, human geography, museology, the environmental sciences and more. In this respect, it has been their strategic intent to drive the idea that contemporary art is a significant voice, made possible by the application of unique blends of original methods and cross-disciplinary appropriation.
Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson are a collaborative art partnership. Their 20-year interdisciplinary art practice is research-based, exploring issues of history, culture and environment in relation to both humans and non-human species. Working very often in close consultation in the field, with experts including professionals and amateurs, they use their work to test cultural constructs and tropes, and human behaviour in respect of ecologies, extinction, conservation and the environment. With a particular focus in the north, their projects and artworks have nevertheless been commissioned, generated and exhibited internationally and as frequent speakers at conferences worldwide, their works have been widely discussed in texts across many disciplinary fields. In 2019 they received a substantial grant from the Icelandic Research Fund (Rannís) for their project Visitations: polar bears out of place. Their artwork is installation based using variety of media including photography, video, text, drawing, objects and sound. Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir is Professor of Fine Art at the Iceland University of the Arts and Mark Wilson is Professor in Fine Art at the Institute of the Arts, University of Cumbria, UK
ABOUT THE WORK
Title: Shooting the Messenger II (English) Dauði boðberans II (ísl.)
Medium: Collage: photographs, text, pins, drawing, paper.
Size: 115cm X 195cm X 2
Year: 2021 Snæbjörnsdóttir and Wilson’s 2018 series of works Shooting the Messenger II (2021) takes as its leitmotif, the idea of the unwelcome visitor, arriving at the shores of an island. The visitor’s appearance in this place, though opportune, is not entirely voluntary and certainly not comfortable. In Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Marcus Coates’ Finfolk, Lars von Trier’s Dogville, the protagonist’s appearance, may be seen as the consequence of changed circumstance and possibly a harbinger of other more extreme events to come. Like them, with global warming, looming belatedly but ever more prominently in the media gestalt and so, in public consciousness, the arrival of polar bears in Iceland signifies a pivotal moment, in its potential to trigger either (temporally) new (or historically repetitive) behaviours in the host, with equally far reaching consequences.
In the summer of 2008, two polar bears made respective appearances on the Skaga peninsula, (Skagaströnd) in the north of Iceland, on the 3rd and on the 16th of June. Their arrival, though not at all extraordinary in itself, caused a particularly public reaction and controversy.