Icelandic sculpturist, Katrin Sigurdardottir is used to building things, but she is also accustomed to confronting the visitor with issues which surround the majority of her interactive sculptures, and these are issues involving ones relationship to space.
In her most recent solo show in New York’s Metropolitan Museums Modern and Contemporary galleries, she has created two sculptures located at opposite halls from one another. Both are pristine replicas inspired by two of the museums French Boiseries period rooms, one of the sculptures is influenced by the boudoir of Hotel de Crillon (1777-80), and the other from the Hotel de Cabris (c. 1774). The original location of these exact rooms are positioned in the Wrightsman Galleries of the New Yorks Metropolitan museum. Sigurdardottir gives us a contrasting perspective on the historical museums exacerbation for authenticity by commenting on the sterile and non invited atmospheres that is often suggested when one visits an exhibit at a museum.
Upon visiting any of these period rooms, there is a dark emptiness and non attachment, that we are left feeling as a visitor, except for the panel which finely gives us an explanation for what it is that we are seeing. Sigurdardottir’s installations use of pure white french wood paneling, draws us further to the suggested notion of these kept sterile environments, and ideas of extreme preservation for the museums valuables.
In the contemporary replica for Hotel de Crillon (1777-80), Sigurdardottir leaves the sculptures doors open. In opposition to its original position in the museum, the visitor is here allowed to walk through and take part in the exhibit, but the doors lead to nowhere. Although we are invited inside these rooms, we are still removed and left with voided feelings. The sculpture is of shifted scale and multi dimensions, which are all likely comments to the visitors bewildered experience once encountered with a period room.
Inside the opposing installation of Hotel de Cabris (c. 1774) there are locked doors and the visitor is only allowed to experience this exhibit from the outside. Infinite mirrors are used to challenge our thoughts of reality and fiction. The inside is again a white and pure, sterile environment. All enclosed, so that the viewer is forced to walk around and sneak a peak through the given windows.
Sigurdardottir’s sculptures are contemporary outlooks on a historical past. Both exhibits bring attention to the visitors lack of involvement with these simulated sterilizing environments, and the controlling experience one is limited to when viewing history, by the museums ability in not only preserving and protecting what we see, but also defining and developing what we know about the past.