The artists invited to realize a project at 1646 are asked to engage in conversation with a correspondent via email or DM, be it someone previously unknown to them or whom they’re already familiar with.
This conversation spans the period before an exhibition is completed. 1646 invites the correspondent at the other end of this exchange to ask questions so they may be guided through the artist’s decision-making process and how their initial ideas develop toward completion. It provides insight into the artist’s body of work and is intended to paint a picture of the otherwise untraceable choices that constitute the artist’s practice.
Ola VAsiljeva [OV] – Helgi Thorsson [HT]
I know your work a little bit – a few years ago I saw a wonderful
bar or maybe it was a lamp or a farmer’s leg- or maybe a combination of all three at Kees van Gelder.
And then I saw many many paintings and sculptures, balding heads
and voluptuous ladies, animal smokers, the undead cats, homeless
ghosts and all was always surrounded by so much magic and so much
At Art Rotterdam I met again a curious bar and all these vessels
and furniture pieces who are also always someone else too. So many
spirits – animal and alcoholic!
From the introduction to your Belissimo Thorsson show I read that
you visited a few mediums, who unraveled some hidden knowledge.
Looking at your work it feels like even your chair or a little tea-
pot knows more than any medium on planet Earth. How did you end
up at a hypnotist this time?
HT – OV
I was in a show with a spiritual artist in Iceland and
there I met a hypnotist, I was curious about it. I found
out that he was in the same building as my accountant,
next time I went with some papers I dropped by the
hypnotist, he was free and gave me a session, not for
free it was rather pricey, but normally he would only
interview people in first session to see if people
are stable or not. I assured him I was totally ok and
stable so he could just get on with it, and it worked,
in a sense: I got in a weird daydream stage and saw
all these bright colors much more intense than if you
just imagine things and colors, it was as watching a
projection in my head.
I did not really go to the mediums for the show, but I
went to them and they told me this stuff – that is the
truth. Why I went is just for curiosity, and when I was
asked to write a text, this came to me and so it came to
be for the exhibition which perhaps is true? I need to
OV – HT
I love this multi-eyed and multi-headed cat, he looks
multi-hypnotized by the calm dog next to him.
And I love the idea of a building which accommodates
an accountant and a hypnotist and who knows what else.
Some of your furniture pieces look like they come
from interiors of similar worlds. Where does the name
“Domti” come from?
HT – OV
Domti was a shop that sold cheap stuff in Smáratorg
shopping center in Iceland, my grandfather had huge
belief in this shop and was always giving members of the
family stuff from there, this was not appreciated.
The shop stopped, I like the name and my grandfather.
Another strange thing about the accountant, he was
great and helped me a lot getting back years of overpaid
tax, but this time I went to the hypnotist, he was not
in and I sent him emails and phoned him but never got
hold of him. One day I went again in that building and
his office was gone, I never heard again from him and I
have had bad luck with my tax.
OV – HT
Maybe you should move your studio to this building where
some mysterious characters appear and disappear. There
must be some portal that the magical accountant and
practical hypnotist keep on exchanging.
And what about the pan flute music?
HT – OV
Yes true, but the accountant is disappearing like that
all the time, I was told.
I must work a bit, then I will have coffee and send
something about the pan flute.
(Helgi disappeared too)
OV – HT
While you take a small break – I was thinking that your
stories and your work follow a dream logic, full of
gaps and past lives and other kind of lives. Maybe it’s
Iceland, so rich in mythic imagination or maybe its just
you lucky to be tapping all the time into some web of
I myself feed heavily on my dreams, for example. Which
often influences my work too. So it’s also like going to
a medium – only instead of going, I am going to sleep.
I rely on this and appreciate the door, which opens in
sleep very much. And sometimes the information that
comes through dreams gets mixed with the reality information and it makes the knowledge so pleasantly elusive
and blurry. I like blurry things and especially in art I
love everything blurry and open. This brings me back to
your ceramics inspired by flute music..
HT – OV
Yes I find dreams help and what comes to me in dreams or
in between wake and sleep is what I take most seriously.
One of the most famous medium of our time Edgar Cayce
said we should all listen to our dreams and write them
down and learn to use them in our daily life, and that
we all have psychic powers?
Pan flute music was kind of joke but I got into it and
I have been playing pan flute music for my ceramics and
I believe that with the right technique of the future I
can play it back through the vases, they are very much
So that’s how the ceramics got influenced by the pan
flute, also there is a big mystery surrounding the
Atlantis and ancient civilizations and perhaps its music
from that time?
OV – HT
That is a wonderful way to converse with your vases –
that you play music for them and then they become the
instrument too. In shamanic cultures it’s also common to
create pottery to the sound of music or a song.
I have been very interested in how sound influences
shapes. Usually it is the form of an instrument that
shapes the sound, but with your approach it seems to
go both ways.
Oh and I’m sure your vases are alive!
What I like about your work so much is that it is full
of the story. It does not tell a story, but the story tells
it. I think our world is full of facts, but the story is
often disappearing. By “a story” I don’t mean a narrative or an explanation, but rather a myth, personal mag-
ic, something mad and ancient but unpredictable and unexplainable, because it’s much older than facts. It can
be traced back through some echoes of dreams, a child’s
imagination and language – or art – like yours. And with
you it is not an occasional discovery, but such a rich
source of this savage and pure otherworldliness.
Can’t wait to see Belissimo Thorsson! And I wish you to
find Echo in your vases and of course for the accountant to find back the right portal!