LB°24 Participants

Iris Smeds

Real-life larva, 2020, Iris Smeds. Luleåbiennalen 2020.

Iris Smeds (b. 1984, Härnösand) is an artist based in Stockholm.

A large larva crawls out of a loaf of bread crawling with greenish mould. A tear falls from the eye of the larva’s somewhat human face. It has a pen in its hand for writing or drawing. But who is this larva? Where is it going? And why do we feel both disgust and sympathy at the scene that is unfolding? Iris Smeds uses performance and sculpture to examine questions about value and labour. In her new work Real-life larva she looks at the function and conditions of art-making. In the destiny of the creature, we see both the artist and the product, the producer and the consumer.

The larva and the bread become actors in a metaphor that extends from the money-jobs we do to “bring home the bacon” (or the bread) to consider the role of bread as a status marker in contemporary cultural systems. When bread seems to stand for both image and material reality, a hierarchy emerges where the world is determined by its representation. In this game, the realisation of the dough’s potential is a sensitive process where the fragile yeast is threatened by the aggressive fungus of the mould, and where the caterpillar always risks burning either itself or the bread during baking. Criticism and play come together in the disloyal caterpillar’s simultaneous ability to lie and dream; despite its vulnerability, it exercises a subversive power by cunningly controlling the images of the world.

0–9 Bye (A bug’s life), also on view at Luleå konsthall, consists of a sculpted mantle in pink satin with the numbers 0-9 listed on it. To calculate life by numbers is a kind of double action: You can count down to the endpoint of death, or you can try keep death at bay, and control time by counting it. In this way, life is engulfed in a nite system. The numbers can be anything (even an allegory for life and death) but they also always continue to be simply numbers. 0-9 and then you die. Smeds remembers the disappointment she felt as a child when she realised that there were no more numbers. The mantle is similar to the butter fly who after it emerges from the cocoon has reached the last stage of its life.

Iris Smeds (b. 1984, Härnösand) is an artist based in Stockholm.

0–9 Bye (a bugs life), 2018~2019, Iris Smeds. Luleåbiennalen 2020


Real-life larva, 2020
Textile, styrofoam, silicon, nylon sock, cardboard

0–9 Bye (a bugs life), 2018~2019
Foam rubber, satin, acrylic, rope


Luleå konsthall