Katrín Sigurðardóttir: Foundation
“A floor is a place. A floor represents a fixed location, stationary, and by conventional logic it is safe to say that floors don’t move; but as decorative surfaces, as historical artifacts, and as archaeological discoveries, they are commonly preserved, and transplanted, to museums, or to other locations where the aura, the ghost, the shadow, the atmosphere of their original locale is suggested. It becomes a narrative in a new time and place; a remembrance of lives, customs, cultures, events is imbued in the material, rubs off the surface. They become gigantic souvenirs of a different place, time, experience.” –Katrín Sigurðardóttir, First Proposal, Venice, May 2012
Katrín Sigurðardóttir’s Foundation, which was Iceland’s official contribution to the 2013 Venice Biennale, is a large-scale installation comprising a raised ornamental surface. This massive structure extends beyond the walls of the museum’s galleries, mapping out the floor of an imaginary 18th-century pavilion.
Foundation was conceived as a trilogy of installations: in an ancient laundry in Venice, in an old customs depository in Reykjavík and in a trolley shop from earlier times in New York. With its historical reference, Foundation draws attention to the inherent history of its host buildings, and they come to embody the toil of the serving trades. The visitor walks upon the floor of the nobleman, while the ceiling above his head is that of the servant or laborer. At each exhibition venue the preexisting walls continue to shape the work, draw a new pattern. Thus, the real story – of intersecting three different buildings in three countries – will intentionally contrast with the fairy tale of the baroque-inspired floor.
The tiled surface, handmade by Sigurðardóttir and her colleagues in her studio, calls into question the boundaries between art and craft. The floor is not made by traditional methods, however, as Sigurðardóttir chose to use art materials rather than industrial materials to cast the tiles.