Collaborative exhibition by Baldvin Ringsted and Hrafnhildur Halldórsdóttir
The perfect blend
The first collaborative exhibition by Baldvin Ringsted and Hrafnhildur Halldórsdóttir explores the theme of improvisation versus skill that informs their work. Talitha Kotzé meets them
The inside of a grand piano has been painted black and raised onto short legs. Black growth infiltrates its entrails. This is the first collaborative piece by Baldvin Ringsted and Hrafnhildur Halldórsdóttir, and will form the central piece for their first two-person show in which unusual similarities in their work will be woven together.
Aptly titled The Raw and the Cooked, it invokes the theme of improvisation versus skill that runs through both their practices. Referring to the concept, explored by Claude Lévi-Strauss, of the primitive and the cultured, and the exploration of myth and music, Ringsted explains: ‘Reflecting on visual art, there is a conflict between the raw – the improvised and the instinctual, and the cooked – the skill, the technique and the way it is framed. For example in music you get the punk rocker, the wild and chaotic, yet precisely framed so it is not really that wild, rather prescribed and uniformed.’
‘My work is always very literal,’ says Ringsted. ‘It requires a lot of planning and research before I can make it.’ He will exhibit his metronome piece which is inspired by black metal – music of raw power mixed with symphonic order. ‘You have to practise for hours. It is all so over the top, so staged, that it turns the original motive of wildness on its head.’
Halldórsdóttir’s work in contrast is very tactile and material. Her working methodology is one of instinctual improvisation in the studio, yet at the same time it requires incredible discipline and dedication. ‘For this show I’m making objects that tap into that primitive energy of losing yourself in the doing. The same as you do when listening to music. Like the early 60s garage rock. That primitive rock’n’roll when the normal guy on the normal street in America married to their high school sweetheart could transport themselves and go crazy for musicians. Music showed them a different place.
‘In my work things look important, magical, ritualistic, as if it will cause something to happen.’ Halldórsdóttir has used leather, studs, pins, and drumsticks – the paraphernalia of metal and rock’n’roll – to weave together chaos and control.
Both artists have backgrounds in music. Halldórsdóttir sang in a classical choir for ten years and DJs regularly. Ringsted played guitar since the age of 13 and then studied jazz, only to give it up for visual art. ‘As I had to explain it to my mum one day – art is the perfect master of none, you can combine it all.’
He likes bass, soft rock, heavy metal and black metal. ‘That insane theatrical dedication inspires me. You don’t see that in all music. Take the recent indie bands for example – they slightly look the part, but go on to have normal lives in the city.’
‘I like noisy rock’n’roll,’ says Halldórsdóttir. ‘When I DJ, I mix Serge Gainsbourg with sludge metal, mid 60s garage rock, proto punk and late 70s punk. The Cramps, for example, fuse that primitive feeling – taking you to a place of reckless abandon.
‘It’s all about sex and death, let’s face it, that’s all there is.’
Baldvin Ringsted and Hrafnhildur Halldórsdóttir: The Raw and the Cooked, Intermedia Gallery, CCA, Glasgow, Tue 18 Aug–Sun 6 Sep.