Riceboy Sleeps

Riceboy Sleeps

Riceboy Sleeps are the two Iceland based artists Alex Somers and Jon Thor Birgisson, jointly authoring works on paper as we well as video works and soundscapes.

Riceboy work from found objects, this is done both in reference to Icelandic rooting as well as Beuysian aesthetics. It is fair to say that Riceboy’s work begins with the written word, in old books specifically. Yet it is not the contents of the books but their visual appearance, their markings and traces of being used, which lead on to their drawings being layered on top of the worn pages. The drawings in turn are photographed and inserted in old window frames, withered from the elements with their layers of chipped paint and the drips of old paint and dust on the glass exposed.The result of this process are poetic slight-handed drawings of boyhood memories traced on the remnants of quite literally a house. The work speaks of innocence and an intact world order, with time passing over the memory in changing seasons. The objects speak of beauty. One could leave it at that as the works are in many ways simply enchanting.

Riceboy construct their works from multiple sources and multiple meanings. They belie the simplicity of the result. The meanings are meticulously unearthed akin to an archealogical dig, the delapidation of the book pages is given a new meaning by the addition of the drawings, which in turn function like a graffiti scrawl. The drawings grow out of stains in the book, their fast and unfinished strokes are not authored by one but two artists, we do not find out which. Other markings appear, notes, unfinished words, numbers. We do not find out who added them and when. They give the torn pages new meanings. But rather than being complete messages they are encrypted, made sometime in the past or recently, like the dust gathered on the windowframes they shift, transmute form other markings. The objects become performative, or in contemporary terms like animations.

Riceboy Sleeps are a collective of two artists and by default,as found object are used, by other unnamed authors, who all contribute to the works. They are symbols of collective memory or rather representations of snippets of memory. By turning the drawings and notes on book pages into a photograph, the first part of the work is fixed at some point, yet when being inserted into the windowframes with their markings and stains the process begins again to the point where the works become open-ended ciphers.

Riceboy’s videos function along the same collage technique of piecing together found super8 footage, allowing for the flickering of spliced filmtape to form new marks or rhythmic incisions which in turn are overlayed with sound elements to form dreamlike sequences. The sound here is incidental as it becomes another mark made over someone else’s memory.

The complete absence of subjectivity is “ a little Piece of the Real” in the sense of Slavoij Žižek, whereby the stain becomes the subject itself. Riceboy Sleeps works emerge from post-modern thinking by offering endless possibilities of interpretation, allowing for the collective unconscious to become part of the continuing ritual of reading and re-reading the marks.


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