In her work artist Ólöf Nordal deals with Icelandic history and the collective memory of a nation in a critical and analytical way. Her artistic research has been focused on the self-identity of a nation in postcolonial times, the origin and the reflection of national motifs in the present, and the fragment as a mirror into the past. The politics of presentation of animal specimens as well as the fascination with the monstrous are at play in Nordal’s photographs and sculptures. Her work continues to explore the folkloric traditions surrounding Icelandic nature as well as those scientific practices that, in their seeking to preserve and display nature, also fictionalize it.
Ólöf Nordal studied at the Icelandic College of Art and Craft and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. She holds an MFA in Fiber Art from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan and an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Her solo shows include the exhibitions Corpus dulcis (1998) and Iceland Specimen Collection (2005) at Gallerí i8; Burb (2001) in the Living Art Museum, Cock’s Egg (2005) and Models (2010) in the ASÍ Art Museum; Musée Islandique (2012) in the National Gallery of Iceland, Garefowl†Pinguinus impennis: Extermination of a Species – Ultimate Samples (2016) in Safnahusid and the project Experiment on Turf (2018). In 2019, Reykjavík Art Museum hosted a retrospective of Nordal’s artistic career with the exhibitions Úngl in Kjarvalsstaðir and úngl- úngl in Ásmundarsafn.
Ólöf has made a number of works in public space: Great Auk (1998), located in Skerjafjörður, Would you know yet more? In Iceland Parliament House Alþingi, (2002), Cupstone (2005) in Seltjarnarnes. Birds of the sky (2007) an altar piece in Ísafjörður church and the Bríet Bjarnhédinsdóttir Memorial (2007). In 2013, the environmental project Þúfa was built by the harbor in Reykjavík. Recently unveiled works are Eye (2021) in Hamrahlíð College and Human Birds (2022) by the nursing home Móberg in Selfoss.
Ólöf Nordal is a Professor in Fine Art at Iceland University of the Arts.