Katrin Fridriks’ art was chosen earlier
this year for the cover of GAIA, the prestigious academic journal
that concerns itself with environmental and sustainabilty problems
and solutions. Fridriks’ work is the outcome of finding the perfect
balance between controlled and wild kinetic energy and ranges from
steely monochromatic colour ways to the vibrant colour-rich. As
natural scientist
Loftur Reimar describes it, “She makes abstract phenomena such as
speed, gravity or growth tangible.“ The unpredictable
and dynamic patterns featured in her pieces are reminiscent of the
contour lines on a map and are indeed inspired by the extreme
geography of her home country, Iceland.

The Icelandic influence is evident not
just visually but also in the political message of her work. In
Waste, Fridriks most
recent installation at Circle Culture, her artworks address ideas of
reusability, sustainability and environmental waste. There are many
innovative examples of waste being repurposed in Iceland, e.g. the
luxurious Blue Lagoon, which was formed as the result of the output
of a nearby geothermal power plant pooling on a lava field near
Reykjavík. Pieces in Fridriks’ Waste installation were once
considered waste themselves. Fridriks’ creative process is highly
physical – she takes days to prepare and choreograph certain ways
to splash and throw paint on a canvas in exactly the right manner.
She creates stunning pieces of work through this method where
a lot of paint ends up on the floor. Rather than clearing the
remnants away, Fridriks has recognised their aesthetic potential and
given them an artistic purpose of their own. In the words of art
critic Klaus Speidel, Fridriks declares “waste
to be worthy of aesthetic attention“. Thus, Waste
speaks not only of Fridriks’ own hopes of a greener future where
waste is valued and repurposed rather than just discarded, but it
also becomes a mouthpiece for Iceland’s environmental aims, so it was
only appropriate that the
installation was
opened by the Icelandic Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson.

Not only was Fridriks the cover artist
of GAIA but her work also features in the article ‘Sustainabilty
Science with Ozzy Osbourne, Julia Roberts and Ai Weiwei’ in the same
issue. The article itself, written by Harald Heinrichs, professor of
sustainabilty and politics at Leuphana University Lüneburg, is well
worth a read. It discusses the development and importance of
arts-based research methodology as it pertains to environmentally
sustainable development. Fridriks’ work is used as an example to
highlight how successful Fine and Performance Art can be in bringing
environmental issues to the forefront of general popular discussions.
The article argues that art and artists have the potential to play a
seminal role in finding solutions to protecting our environment, and
we at Circle Culture agree.

When viewing work by Katrin, I am reminded of Hegel, who explained
beauty as the spiritual making itself known sensuously. She makes
abstract phenomena such as speed, gravity or growth tangible.
Experience of art takes us to a different dimension, akin to the
reality beyond, the realm of the mystic. As the Persian sufi poet
Rumi wrote: “Somewhere between right and wrong, there is a garden –
I will meet you there.”

Loftur Reimar
Managing Director at Reykjavik

For her new project, Katrin Fridriks
transforms leftovers into works of art, declaring waste to be worthy
of aesthetic attention. What was a by-product of artistic creation
thus becomes its product. Such a reframing more naturally relates to
Marcel Duchamp’s Ready-Mades than to Jackson Pollock’s All-Overs.
It is more common in conceptual art than in expressionistic painting.
Each of the little pieces is a trace of a larger work, which it
indexically evokes. But each of them is also a microcosm in itself, a
work in virtue of the artist’s intentions. We could call them micro
paintings. Each micro painting is born twice: once when Fridriks
works on a large canvas, and some of the paint splashes on the floor
and a second time when she decides that a splash is worthy of
appreciation in and of itself. But her reframing does not only
connect this new series to conceptual art. It also evokes methods
from outside the art world, for instance: Lateral Thinking, used to
induce new ways of seeing and systematically generate innovation
through a change of perspective. What if…, lateral thinkers like
Edward de Bono ask, …we drilled for oil from below rather than
above. What could this mean? The conceptual drive in Fridriks’
works, which has been manifest in her titles for many years, is not
purely conceptual. It is consciously political.

Klaus Speidel

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