Until November 12, Montreal’s DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art hosts Björk Digital, the North American debut of the Icelandic auteur’s new virtual reality art-films, which exhibited in Sydney, Tokyo, and London earlier this year.
Presented by the Red Bull Music Academy and Centre Phi, the exhibition immerses attendees into an intimate world that Björk conceived of to accompany the music from her emotional 2015 album, Vulnicura (Latin for “cure for wounds”). Groups of ticketholders are led to various rooms, empty but for swivel chairs and Samsung Galaxy Virtual Reality headsets (and other techie sundries). Upon activation, guests are first immersed in the MoMA-commissioned VR-video for “Black Lake”, the violin-driven, aggressively vulnerable breakup song Björk wrote to chronicle the pain she felt upon the disintegration of her 13-year relationship with American multimedia artist Matthew Barney. From there, one moves to “Stonemilker”, in which Björk, dressed in a diaphanous highlighter-yellow frock, morphs into triplicate, whirling around the viewer across the black shores of a beach in Grotta, Iceland (near her Reykjavik home). “Mouthmantra” takes viewers inside the pulsating red of the singer’s mouth, and “Family”, the exhibit’s climax, offers an interactive experience in which participants help a transcendent, goddess-like incarnation of Björk sew up an open wound in her chest with neon lavender threads.
Björk Digital underscores the singer’s enduring commitment to genre-bending and experimentation—the next step after her nature-themed 2011 album, Biophilia, which included a game-filled app narrated by David Attenborough. Indeed, another corner of the exhibition allows viewers to cozy into a screening room to watch videos from across her 24-year solo career, observing the goofy, provocative, and visionary musical projects that have collectively contributed to her status as an iconic creator.
Björk Digital, October 16 to November 12, DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, 451–465 St-Jean Street, Montreal, QC, H2Y 2R6, dhc-art.org