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Fog Swept Cargo: Art From the Faroe Islands

Fog Swept Cargo: Art from the Faroe Islands brings the striking diversity of the Faroe Islands’ contemporary art scene to the U.S. with works by Hansina Iversen, Rannvá Kunoy, Tóroddur Poulsen, Hanni Bjartalíð, Randi Samsonsen, Alda Mohr Eyðunardóttir, Jóhan Martin Christiansen and Steinprent studios.

Fog Swept Cargo — Art from the Faroe Islands brings the striking diversity of the Faroe Islands’ contemporary art scene to the United States for the first time. The exhibition features seven versatile visual artists whose works range widely in terms of expression, media, and technique: from abstract painting and sculpture to figurative graphic art, textile works, and installations. Curated by Kinna Poulsen, the exhibition will also highlight the pioneering work of lithography studio Steinprent, whose atelier in the capital of Tórshavn attracts artists from all over the world for collaboration. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Fog Swept Islands: Faroe Islands Culture Days, a special showcase featuring Faroese art and culture at Scandinavia House.

The exhibition will open Saturday, April 13 with a celebration featuring a panel with artists Hansina Iversen, Randi Samsonsen, Jóhan Martin Christiansen, Alda Mohr Eyðunardóttir, moderated by curator Kinna Poulsen; a screening of the film Heartist exploring the life and work of artist Sigrun Gunnarsdóttir; followed by a film panel with directors Marianna Mørkøre & Beinta á Torkilsheyggi and producers Jón Hammer & Rógvi Rasmussen.

In many ways, the Faroe Islands are a paradox. Though isolated in the North Atlantic Ocean, Faroese society has historically had an almost cosmopolitan character due to seaway connections and trade. Weather always has the last word when it comes to the daily lives of the Faroese, however, and the winds of change bring more than ships to the Islands’ craggy shores. Without an art academy in the Faroes, artists must travel abroad for a formal art education, bringing diverse experience and exchange back home with them. The entirety of Faroese art history spans scarcely 100 years. For most of the 20th century, Faroese visual art was dominated by motifs that favored natural landscapes and villages cast in mutable light, but much has changed since the beginning of the new millennium. Faroese art no longer consists solely of semi-abstract, expressive landscape renderings on canvas; today it is characterized by an eclectic mix of work.

Hansina Iversen (b.1966, Tórshavn; lives in Tórshavn) paints with multiple, interacting layers to build shifting organic forms and dynamic structures that vibrate with colour and light. Rannvá Kunoy (b.1975, Tórshavn; lives in London) questions the perceived hierarchy between paintings and their spatial environment, creating a beautiful, unsettling sense of motion reminiscent of the flickering on-screen effect made by vintage film projectors. Tóroddur Poulsen (b.1957, Tórshavn) is a self-taught poet, musician, and visual artist who lives in Copenhagen. His work combines graphic and literary expression to generate fresh—often satirical—reflections on capitalist society, nationalism, and so-called cultural norms. Hanni Bjartalíð (b.1968, Klaksvík; lives in Helsinki) works in a technically diverse range of drawings and reliefs, often chock-full of patterns and details—carpets, bowls, lamps, paintings, books—that serve as forms of contemporary memento mori. Randi Samsonsen (b.1977, Tórshavn; lives in Tórshavn) has worked with soft and round textile sculptures whose adorable clumsiness is so disarming that viewers often feel blindsided when they finally notice the artworks’ more ominous undertones. Alda Mohr Eyðunardóttir (b.1997, Tórshavn) lives in Copenhagen where she is pursuing an MFA at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Her work demonstrates a fascination with the tactile properties of materials often associated with Faroese culture and craftsmanship, especially wool. Jóhan Martin Christiansen (b.1987, Tórshavn; lives in Copenhagen) explores subjects such as how natural and man-made environments interact, queer body memory, the baroque, and pop music. He utilizes found objects as well as plaster, corrugated plastic, and scraps of building materials in his work. Steinprent (est. 1999, Tórshavn) is named after the Faroese word for stone lithography, Steinprent. Steinprent moved to Østrøm, a former factory building near the shipyard in central Tórshavn, in 2009 and has played a significant role in the evolution of contemporary Faroese art.

Fog Swept Cargo will open on Saturday, April 13 alongside a panel discussion with artists Hansina Iversen, Randi Samsonsen, Jóhan Martin Christiansen, Alda Mohr Eyðunardóttir, and curator Kinna Poulsen, and will be on view through July 6, 2024. It has been curated by Kinna Poulsen. Additional programs include gallery tours, adult art workshops with Melkorka Helgadottir, a Curator Talk, and a Virtual Gallery Tour.

Fog Swept Cargo is organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Industry and Trade of the Faroe Islands.

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Image: Hansina Iversen, Purple Rain, 2023