Rófurass. The Dog Within by Icelandic artist Bjargey Ólafsdóttir at the ISSP Gallery

  • 2022-09-13

From September 16 to November 3 the ISSP Gallery in Riga will host a solo exhibition by Icelandic artist Bjargey Ólafsdóttir. Rófurass. The Dog Within is dedicated to the relationship between humans and their canine pets. Work on the series began in 2018, while the artist was taking part in the ISSP Riga Residency. The opening of the exhibition will take place on September 15 from 6.00 - 8.00 PM.

In Icelandic, the word "Rófurass" refers to the rear part of an animal's body, including the tail and the bottom. Usually, the term is used to describe babies – a cute child or a puppy, perhaps referring to the way a dog expresses its emotions by wagging its tail. The tail wagging gesture itself is endearing and can help strengthen the emotional bond between the dog and its owner, or companion. But what really lies behind seemingly commonplace relationships between domesticated animals and humans? In the exhibition, the artist questions what the unconditional submission of a cared-for creature does to their owner's psyche and how this coexistence can be viewed from the perspective of canine rights, posthumanism and the meaning of (animal) life.

The series Rófurass features drawings, photographic portraits of dogs and sound work created by the artist. Some of the portraits feature dogs met while walking in the streets of Riga. Beneath the apparently playful character of the works, the wild nature of the animal can be detected not only in the dog, but also in the human – as in one of the drawings, which depicts a woman with a dog trapped in her body. This dog's only, momentary desire is to break out of his mistress's chest.

On Saturday, September 17 from 12.00 - 4.00 PM, the ISSP Gallery will host a Dog Photo Studio, during which visitor's pets can get their portraits taken by the artist – welcome!

Bjargey Olafsdottir studied photography, painting and mixed media at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, and screenwriting and directing at Binger Filmlab, Amsterdam. She works with all media, resulting in works that often are ironic, sometimes violent or sinister, drawing on obsession and fantasies of contemporary life. Her characters are often subjects lost in familiar yet alienating circumstances. For her photo series Scintilla Bjargey was nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography prize. She has made a number of critically acclaimed films and exhibited her work internationally in venues and festivals such as Reykjavik Art Museum, Kunstverein Munich, KunstWerke Berlin, Germany, Galeria Traschi, Santiago, Chile, Moderna Museet Stockholm, The Moore Space Miami, USA, Manifesta Foundation Amsterdam, Turku Biennale, Finland, MEP, Parizē, E-flux New York, WUK Kunsthalle, Vienna, Tate Modern, London, etc. www.bjargey.com

ISSP is a platform for contemporary photography, based in Riga, Latvia, and acting internationally. ISSP offers the highest-quality education and networking programmes for photographers, organizes exhibitions and events, and creates new ways to promote the cross-border exchange of ideas in the art of photography.

The ISSP Gallery is located at Berga Bazārs, Marijas iela 13 k-3


Mo., Sun: closed

Tu.: 12.00 – 18.00

We.: 12.00 – 20.00

Th., Fr., Sa..: 12.00 – 18.00

The exhibition Rófurass is supported by Riga City Council, the State Cultural Capital Foundation and Groglass.