When Egill Sæbjörnsson was chosen to represent Iceland at the Venice Biennale, two bad-tempered, human-eating trolls, Ūgh and Bõögâr, took over his studio and made the Biennale exhibition on his behalf, without asking for his permission.
The trolls’ exhibition Out of Controll in Venice was a major success. It received a great deal of attention in the media and it was popular among the public. Enchanted with the results, Ūgh and Bõögâr decided to continue and expand into perfumes, music and jewellery. The trolls’ first jewellery store, the Jewellery Shop, was opened in October in Gallery i8 in Reykjavik and Ūgh and Bõögâr will next take over Galerie Anhava.
Ūgh and Bõögâr are Icelandic trolls. They are 36 metres tall and like to eat people, hide behind buildings and – since they can metamorphose – change into different creatures, beings and objects.
Sæbjörnsson uses Ūgh and Bõögâr to scrutinise our relationship with reality. Their activities in Venice included a massive social media campaign of which we cannot know whether it was about something real or if it was plain nonsense. Does the perfume that was sold on the net even exist? What do we really know about the world offered to us by the media, and social media? How many of us have met Putin?
Works and performances by Egill Sæbjörnsson have been shown at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, the Kölnischer Kunstverein, the Baryshnikov Art Center in New York, Oi Futuro in Rio de Janeiro, PS1/MoMa in New York, the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney. Sæbjörnsson has held gallery exhibitions in, among other venues, Gallery i8 in Reykjavik, Hopstreet Gallery in Brussels, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi and Galerie Johann König in Berlin. He was shortlisted for the Carnegie Art Award in 2010. Works by Egill Sæbjörnsson are included in numerous private public collections around the world. His most recent public works of art are Steinkugel at the Robert Koch Institute and Cascade, a large light installation on the façade of Kunstmuseum Ahlen. In 2011, Sæbjörnsson collaborated with Marcia Moraes and Robert Wilson on a renewed production of Wilson’s legendary Einstein on the Beach.