Bryndis Snaebjörnsdottir
United Kingdom (residence), Iceland (citizenship) °1955
affiliation: Iceland Academy of the Arts

Professor and MA programme director Iceland Academy of the Arts, 2016 -

adj. Professor Malmö Art Academy, Lund University 2015 - 2017

Director v.arc - Valand Artistic Research Centre  2011- 2013

Professor Akademin Valand 2010-2015

Research Fellow Centre for Art and Environment, Nevada Museum of Art, U.S. 2013-2015


Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir graduated with an MFA from Glasgow School of Art (1995) and completed a practice based PhD from Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg in 2010.


Bryndís & Mark (Snaebjornsdottir/Wilson) are a collaborative artist team, whose art practice is research based and socially-engaged, exploring issues of history, culture and environment in relation to both humans and non-human animals. Their artworks have been exhibited internationally and they have delivered papers at key conferences in animal studies worldwide. One of their art projects nanoq: flat out and bluesome an artist survey of stuffed polar bears in the UK has been touring Europe since 2006. Uncertainty in the City, an art project exploring the conception of ‘pest’ in the human psyche was exhibited in Lancaster, in England in 2010 and a publication with the same name was published by Green Box, Berlin in June 2011. Their work Vanishing Point: Where Species Meet is part of the Gothenburg Biennial 2011 and was also exhibited at the State Darwin Museum in Moscow as part of the 5th Moscow Biennial in 2013.  A solo exhibition Trout Fishing in America and Other Stories, ASU Museum of Art 2014 followed by a publication on the project titled You Must Carry Me Now: the Cultural Lives of Endangered Species. They are currently working with Anchorage Museum, Alaska on ‘Polarlab’, a two-year research project and they are part of a cross disciplinary team of researchers into ‘plant blindness’ funded by the Swedish Science Council. Their work is installation based, using text, sound, photographic and video-based media.

For more information on their work see:


Exposition: Alpha (01/01/2014) by Juliet MacDonald
Bryndis Snaebjörnsdottir 26/05/2014 at 14:29

The strength of this research is in Juliet MacDonald’s perseverance with her artistic research processes generally, as demonstrated throughout a long process of information-gathering in relation to the subject. The project, as with most visual art practice-based research does not foreground a research question; it searches for questions and answers simultaneously in a reciprocity of ideas in which information is objectified through the process of collecting and gathering. The innovation is most noticeably in the application of artistic methods and processes that exceed an already well-explored scientific enquiry. It is through the artistic process and context that the work begins to take on a new meaning and deeper understanding of what it was like to be Alpha, a chimpanzee lab animal in the mid-nineties. It seems to me that the focus of the research shifted constructively with the making of the exhibition in the ‘Meantime’ gallery space and that instead of it focusing on the drawing – the drawing became instead, the tool from which it was possible to create or identify new knowledge, interpretation and insights.


The research subject is challenging and controversial, in that it highlights the ethical issues concerning animal experimentation. The challenge in the research lies in the initial research itself, that of using drawing as a tool to investigate visual perception in chimpanzees. As evident in the many books collected by Juliet for this research that over time, have been withdrawn from libraries and thus lost to the general public, our knowledge of animal cognition and indeed our increased awareness of complexities in how other species perceive or navigate the world has changed considerably since the 1940s. I would even go so far as to say that to be able to consider the drawing of animals one needs to “unlearn” what we humans know about drawing and try to conceptualize what drawing might mean to a non-human animal. However, working within academic research and publishing does not give much latitude for stepping outside of a human-centred world, whereas an exposition of (non-linguistic) art opens up a space of enquiry to enable this. Animal studies groups amongst other academic disciplines have taken a special interest in art in order to explore exactly this relationship between ontologies, embodiment and knowing and how artistic methods can shed light on how other forms of knowledge are identified or acquired.



Working with animals in art requires ethical considerations and one might consider here how the animal (Alpha) is ‘objectified’ all over again, this time through art and/or how the reproduction of the subject experience through art adds to our knowledge. It is because of the ethical implications intrinsic to the subject and also as a means by which to test our trust in artistic research that a reflective summation of the exhibition produced is valuable. JAR is after all a journal for artistic research and as such should not simply demonstrate that artist RESEARCH has happened, but should also constitute a platform to highlight and promote the knowledge produced through art. There is of course the argument that this ‘knowledge’ exists in the exhibition per se, embodied in the art itself. But if that is deemed sufficient, it might also then be argued that there is no real function in its appearance in JAR. Perhaps an imperative to re-design and articulate the visual documentation/material specifically for JAR might demonstrate more clearly the ‘issues’ raised and serve to utilise the work as instrument, not only for enquiry through making, but after the event, as a mechanism for continuing discourse, reflection and action.