In this newly conceived exhibition at Gerðarsafn, Santiago Mostyn presents a constellation of photographic and moving-image works created across the Black Atlantic, focusing on sites of personal significance for the artist. The photo series 08–18 (Past Perfect), presented here for the first time, was created over a decade of returns to Trinidad, Zimbabwe, Grenada, the United States, and Scandinavia. Sections of the gallery will be hung with wallpaper treated to a cyanotype process, which will shift and develop a grey-blue tone as they are exposed to the winter sun over the course of the exhibition.
In the same space, a film work, Drawing for Bellevue Estate, will be shown. The film was recorded in Tobago, the island that inspired the landscape of Robinson Crusoe, and bore witness to many waves of European colonial exploitation. In the work, we watch four men cut their way through the tropical bush, marking territory, but towards an unknown goal. Their mapping recalls the early ambitions of European colonists to claim and industrialize the Caribbean, but the film also focuses on the island's largest Silk Cotton Tree, revered for the legend of Gang-Gang Sarah, a historical figure whose attempt to ‘fly home’ to Africa by leaping from the tree ended in her death. The work, therefore, becomes a portrait of a landscape where stories of colonialism, slavery, mythology, and personal experience meet.
Santiago Mostyn’s films, installations, texts, and performances often explore the dissonance of lives lived between different political spheres. His work simultaneously employs footage of historical events, political and cultural figures, and racial injustice to speak to his own personal histories. Santiago creates an intuitive narrative through layering and collage, whether through video or installation, combining new and archival imagery. His research-like process examines questions of identity and memory, both personal and collective, and the intersections of history with current events.
Living and working between Stockholm and Berlin, Santiago Mostyn (b. 1981, San Francisco) holds his BA in 2004 from Yale University. After attending Städelschule from 2006-2007, he received an MA in 2013 from the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm. Santiago was a resident at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in 2021, and will be a fellow at Schloss Solitude in 2022. Recent exhibitions include The Real Show at CAC Brétigny (2022), Swimming Pool-Troubled Waters at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, (2021), Deep Listening for Longing at the 2021 Borås Art Biennial, Sweden (2021), With New Eyes at Goteborgs Konsthall, Gothenburg (2021), Your Shadow is a Mirror at Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Sweden (2021), and Grass Widows at Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, AB, Canada (2020).
Video still: Drawing for Bellevue Estate, 2018