When concrete made its entry into Iceland the early twentieht century a new chapter began in the history of Icelandic architecture. Farm buildings with turf walls disappeared into the past and wooden houses became less common. Concrete had a positive impact on the standard of living and became the main construction material. In recent years it has been associated with greed and excessive optimism as construction projects far exceeded the need for housing. Eygló’s Harðardóttir’s choice of material and title for this environmental work that refers to a cluster of houses makes this history an underlying subject for Village.

The four blocks are made of concrete that has been cast into the ground like building foundations. The outside walls of the pieces form a framework for a base that has been divided into smaller compartments. In spite of this connection the pieces do not resemble replicas of whole buildings, but are more like fragments from a larger planned project. The small blocks reach halfway up from the ground where they stand open and exposed to all kinds of weather. Wind-blown leaves and rain have easy access to their bottom where they can accumulate despite of a drain linking it with the soil. Therefore water and vegetation residues may temporarily become part of the work and influence its meaning. Withered leaves and rainwater arouse thoughts of abandoned buildings, whether ruins of an old village or remnants of a relinquished building site.

The Village may give the impression of desertion but it has also a more profound meaning as a symbol for the psyche, the dwelling place of intangible thoughts and feelings. The mind receives constant stimuli from the environment that it processes and stores in different zones as souvenirs. Those are made from real contacts with both nature and society. The cluster reminds us that isolated events we may encounter are interrelated and affect our perception of the world. The inner walls of the blocks indicate a spiritual dimension of transformation that appears from a dreamlike reflection of so-called color-remains from the environment. The peculiar brightness of these pale colors counterbalances the thick concrete but together they reveal a fainting memory. Our quest for experience and its mental transformation shape the core of Harðardóttir’s work as she boldly lets herself be guided by intuition that travels the border of dreams, memories and the concrete.

Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir. (Margrét has been a journalist since 1987 and lecturer in modern and contemporary art history at the University of Iceland and in new media art history at the Arts Academy of Iceland since 2002. Margrét is a founder of Lorna, an association for electronic arts and a co-member of board at the Icelandic Association of Philosophy)