Bryndis Hafthorsdottir has spent most of her life moving back and forth between Boston, Massachusettes, and Reykjavik, Iceland. She received her BA in European Cultural Studies and German from Brandeis University in 2012. At Brandeis, she specialized in 20th century German and Soviet visual art and literature, and researched the ways in which art could communicate, document, resist, and work through the effects of totalitarian oppression and war. Her more recent research explores artistic reinterpretations of classic literary characters such as Faust, Don Juan, and Adam and Eve, and their futile pursuits of satiation or perfection.
After graduation, she spent one year in Vancouver, BC, interning at ARTSPEAK Artist Run Centre and at the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. Upon moving back to Iceland, she helped establish Hverfisgalleri, a contemporary art gallery that represents some of Iceland’s best-known painters, sculptors, and textile artists.
Bryndis is currently a first year graduate student in the MA Visual and Critical Studies Program.
About Bryndis Hafthorsdottir’s Thesis Project
Icelandic Art, Because There Is Such a Thing
Many critics and curators operate on the premise that regional artistic styles and techniques will soon be rendered obsolete by an emergent international monoculture. Their interpretations of contemporary art presuppose that it has severed its ties to national traditions, and that it only draws on transnational movements for inspiration. This thesis argues against this limiting one-sided dialectic, in favor of an understanding of contemporary art postnational, or as an outcome of the complex intersection between national tradition and globalization. An interdisciplinary investigation into the work of two innovative Icelandic artists, Gabríela Friðriksdóttir and Ragnar Kjartansson, reveals that their artistic strategies repurpose medieval Icelandic oral traditions for international audiences. While their work is often read within exclusively international frameworks and determined to be detached or alienating, this new interpretation suggests that it plays on the affective ties of nation and heritage to cultivate complex forms of inclusion and belonging.