In her works, Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir has criticised both the egocentricity of the consumer society and the introspection of those Icelandic artists who are self-satisfiedly swept along by the currents of supply and demand. Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir draws attention to the artist’s social responsibility and the role of art. Art is not supposed to be isolated ornamentation or a simple illustration to society. Art is an integral part of society. Consequently, art is at once a device for examining society in terms of the forces that shape it. Art can both be the occasion of and forum for dialogue, and at the same time one method to explore society and its discourse. Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir’s work has echoes among the works of international artists who have transcended the frivolity of postmodernism, which regards discourse as its sole subject and has thereby lost its faith in the truth. Even though the artist cannot touch truth itself, art is capable of opening a previously unknown path to reality. Art touches reality in a different way from language. It outwits language and evades the verbal net of discourse which continuously sweeps us in during the endless whirl of consumption. Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir has used photography to address the complex relationship between individuals and the reality that surrounds them. She focuses on individuals’ efforts to navigate existence by documenting their lives with the aid of photography. Through her art, Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir takes part in the living international artistic dialogues on the limits of reality, of society and of the individual. Dialogues that have been defined as part of the neo-realism that came into being after postmodernism began facing up to its own limitations.

Sigrún Sigurðardóttir