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Two trolls turned artists take control of the Icelandic Pavilion in Venice
Installation view of 'Out of Controll in Venice', 2017, Icelandic Pavilion at Biennale Arte 2017. and courtesy Egill Sbjrnsson and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik. Photography Ivo Corda.

VENICE.- The Icelandic Art Center is pleased to unveil the Icelandic Pavilion for the 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia (13 May - 26 November 2017): Out of Controll in Venice is where we finally meet Ūgh and Bgr, the two trolls turned artists, whose story we have been following since they took control of the Icelandic Pavilion from artist Egill Sbjrnsson earlier this year. The pavilion is curated by Stefanie Bttcher, Director of Kunsthalle Mainz.

Ūgh and Bgr are two Icelandic trolls whom Egill Sbjrnsson encountered back in 2008 already - a chance meeting that led to them immersing themselves in the artist’s life and vice versa. Out of Controll in Venice arises from their shared story: bringing together a caf in Giudecca, handcrafted coffee cups, a LP, a book, a clothing line, a perfume, a digital experience and much more, we gain insight into their world as we visit the Pavilion. And not just that - we have a direct encounter with the two ferocious, man-eating creatures we have heard so much about, yet whose existence we may have doubted.

Upon entering the Pavilion, the visitor is confronted with a sign saying caf. A closer look at this seemingly familiar walk-in caf, reveals the two giant heads of Ūgh and Bgr, facing each other in the centre of the space. The trolls’ long hair, falling down 7 metres, has the effect of a curtain, enticing the visitor to explore what’s beyond this physical and psychological barrier. Coffee in hand, they climb up a set of stairs and take a seat at a table on one of the three floors inside the troll’s head, peaking through holes that reveal the troll on the opposite side of the space.

The living caf in Giudecca exists for more than simply rest and relaxation. Activated by layered projections of light, animations and sounds, Ūgh and Bgr are talking to each other about their lives, thoughts and experiences. From time to time they make strange noises and perform a beastly performance. Their interaction reveals to us who they are, at the same time as they assuage their insatiable hunger for humans and for knowledge about our way of life.

Out of Controll in Venice extends beyond the Pavilion of Iceland, both in time and space. Ever since the trolls met Sbjrnsson in 2008, they have been joining in with life in Iceland, Berlin (where Sbjrnsson lives and works), Venice and beyond, intruding and distracting the human world. Their encounter and life with Sbjrnsson is documented in the book When Egill met the Trolls and took them to Venice and the trolls themselves have shared - and will continue sharing - their activities this year and beyond on social media. Everything that they have taken an interest in, from music and fashion, to pottery and perfume, will be available for offline and online visitors to own, spreading the life of Ūgh and Bgr around the world.

Stefanie Bttcher, Director of Kunsthalle Mainz and curator of the Icelandic Pavilion, said: “While Ūgh and Bgr may appear to belong to an archaic world of fantasy, the more time we spend with them in Out of Controll in Venice, the more concrete this seemingly other world becomes. Step by step, the trolls expand their circle of activity, they infiltrate us with their thoughts, their products and their aesthetic. Without noticing, we outgrow the role of passive observer and gradually grow into the artwork. We consume, while simultaneously being guzzled up. Rather than following the activities of the trolls, it is we who are being followed. Rather than seeking an encounter with this world situated between imagination and reality, we are being sucked into it. Just as we take in and absorb the work, the work is incorporating us into itself.”

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