TEXT BY ANDREW BROWN  
 

AUGNABLIK, THE BLINK OF AN EYE. THE MOMENT. FREEZING MOMENTS. STILLING LIFE.   THAT'S ONE OF THE EXPECTATIONS OF VISUAL ARTISTS.   NO MATTER WHAT THEIR MEDIUM, THEY CAPTURE AN ESSENCE, CUT IT AWAY FROM THE REST, AND PRESENT IT TO OUR EYES, STOPPING TIME, THEY MAKE THE MOMENT LAST FOREVER, MAKE IT REAL, IN THE TRUE SENSE OF THE WORD - TURN IT INTO MATTER, A FRAMED THING TO TOUCH, SMELL, THINK ABOUT, SEE.

ICELANDIC FOR 'MOMENT', AUGNABLIK LITERALLY MEANS ' THE BLINK OF AN EYE'. THE WORDS OF A LANGUAGE ALWAYS BETRAY ITS SPEAKERS' CONCEPTION OF THE WORLD.   IN ENGLISH, A MOMENT IS A UNIT OF TIME, AN OBJECTIVE FACT; BUT IN ICELANDIC IT BECOMES THE ACTION OF A KNOWING SUBJECT, THROUGH WHOSE BODY - THE BLINKING EYE - IT BECOMES SIGNIFICANT.   THESE THREE ARTIST ARE ALL STORYTELLERS OF THE EYE.   THEY SHOW US THE STORIES OF THEIR WORLDS, SOME REAL, SOME IMAGINED, AND THROUGH THE BLINKS OF THEIR EYES, WE SEE THEM.

WHERE ELSE COULD THE ARTIST-PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE THREE HAIL FROM BUT ICELAND?   WHERE ELSE BUT THE LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN, WHICH AT TIMES CAN BE NIGHT-TIME ALL DAY, THE WHOLE PLACE BECOMING LIKE A DARKENED ROOM, A CAMERA OCSCURA, WHILE AT OTHERS, THE SUN SHINES RELENTLESSLY THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT, THE LIGHT PIERCING CLOSED, DREAMING EYES?   AND THAT ICELANDIC LIGHT, SO FRESH AND YET SO FLAT, PENETRATES HILDUR MARGRÉTARDÓTTIR'S INTIMATE IMAGES OF HER FAMILY, AND SO IN TURN PIERCES OUR EYES TOO.   IT COES WITHOUT SAYING THAT THE BLINK OF AN EYE IS BOUND TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S PRACTICE IN A UNIQUE WAY, THE AUGNABLIK ECHOING THE CLICK OF THE CAMERA'S SHUTTER.   UNLIKE PHOTOGRAPHERS WHO STAGE-MANAGE THEIR SUBJECTS AND CAREFULLY DIRECT THEIR SCENES, MARGRÉTARDÓTTIR WORKS BY TRAPPING LIFE AS IT TAKES PLACE AROUND HER, BLINKING THE SHUTTER-EYE SHUT HUNDREDS, SOMETIMES THOUSANDS OF TIMES TO CAPTURE A CONTINUUM OF PASSING MOMENTS, A SERIES OF FLEETING EYE-BLINKS.   IT IS ONLY WHEN REVIEWING THE FRAMES LATER DOES HER EYE DISCRIMINATE AND FIND THE 'DECISIVE MOMENT', AS CARTIER-BRESSON DESCRIBED IT.   AND IT IS ONLY WHEN SHE RE-PRESENTS THEM TO US THAT WE SEE THESE MOMENTS AS SIGNIFICANT BECAUSE THE ARTIST HAS IMMORTALIZED THEM AND DEEMED THEM WORTHY OF RE-PRESENTATION.

SOME FRAMES REVEAL LIFE UNCONSCIOUSLY TAKING ON THE VISUAL CONVENTIONS OF EARLIER ART. IN ADORATION , FOR EXAMPLE, THE ARTIST'S CHILDREN, FRIEND AND CAT FORM A RENAISSANCE PYRAMID, THE HOLY FAMILY TRANSPORTED TO A 21ST CENTURY REYKJAVIK KITCHEN AND AN EPIC BATTLE ON THE GAME BOY. AND IN EAST, HER SON HAFSTEINN SNORRI'S FULL-FRONTAL POSE RECALLS THAT OF WATTEAU'S 18TH CENTURY PIERROT, WHILE SINK CONTINUES THE TRADITIONS OF DUTCH INTERIOR AND STILL-LIFE PAINTING.   BUT IT IS TO THE STORIES OF THE EYE THAT WE ALWAYS RETURN.   BOTH ADORATION AND GRAN ARE ENACTMENTS OF A COMPLEX SYSTEM OF GAZES, WITH THE ARTIST'S STEADY EYE MATCHING THOSE OF HER SUBJECTS, WHOSE GLANCES WE FOLLOW AROUND THE SCENE.   AND THE CENTRAL FIGURE OF GRAN , HERSELF THE OBJECT OF SEVERAL PAIRS OF EYES, STARES OUT, REFUSING TO BLINK.   SO, TOO DOES HER CONFIDENT GREAT-GRANSON HAFSTEINN SNORRI, WHILE OUR OWN EYES, PERHAPS MADE UNEASY BY HIS ASSURED STARE, ARE DRAWN TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD OF THE MAN RUNNING AWAY.