Ikon presents the first UK solo exhibition by Dublin-based artist Sarah Browne, a survey of film and sculptural works, including the artist’s entry for the 2009 Venice Biennale. Using ‘the economy’ as the basis for her artistic practice, Browne works with small communities of people, documenting resourceful forms of exchange such as gifting, subsistence, poaching and subsidies, to reveal the hidden social relations that exist in small-scale economic structures.
A Model Society (2007) stems from research – undertaken prior to the recent financial crisis – in which Iceland was declared the happiest nation on earth. Browne advertised for knitwear models in Reykjavik newspapers and then surveyed respondents about the quality of life in Iceland. The models are presented within iconic Icelandic landscapes, wearing traditional lopi sweaters in which selected phrases from their comments, such as ‘no war’ and ‘rotten politics’, have been knitted. In works like these, the artist taps into the personal, emotional underpinnings of both national identity and macroeconomic forces.