In Viktoria Gudnadottir's work PRIDE something simple happens: one group of people flow through another group of people.
spectator / spectacle / spectator.
The peripheral group stands on either side of a people-stream; in support, in curiosity, waiting and watching. The groups are affiliated but different. As a viewer we take the role of the spectacle group that passes through the midst of the 'Other'. We observe them watching us. Only after some minutes do we glimpse an attribute in the audience group that belies the nature of the procession and thus the nature of our own role within this work. A rainbow-striped flag reveals that the camera, a.k.a WE, are participating in an Icelandic Gay Pride parade.
It is also painful to be in this spectacle group. As we absorb the video installation we are reminded of other moments of spectacle, of the potential for true spectacle and that this group is obviously not picking up the stick of opportunity. We think of grand parades we may have seen on the telly, maybe we are reminded of the Situationists creating spectacle as a method for appropriating public culture —thankfully locating a bit of absurdity into everyday life. We think also of group of soldiers or possibly even prisoners of war. But when we compare those situations with the one we are currently in, walking through the ranks of the 'normal', those that ogle us, they who crane their necks to see us, we wonder about the strength of our identity. When it means enough for us to walk through them why are we so docile? PRIDE lets us experience a moment pregnant with meaning and docility.
In 'Once Upon a Time' Gudnadottir tells another story devoid of spectacle. It is a generic experience that in any grandmother and any granddaughter could be the players. Stripped bare of all psychological nuance, leaving only the clearest lines we find that the story is only facts. We want to protest and say, 'where's the part about sharing moments in the kitchen, about the picnic, about the time when we got lost in the woods. For in this story, grandma only lives and then grandma dies, a life stripped of all things meaningful. Why, we wonder, does the girl name her child for the Grandma when we have no information that would warrant this behaviour? 'Once Upon a Time' poses us with a blank slate that can never be blank. We provide the experience in our role as viewer.
Lecturer, Dutch Art Institute