IMAGES OF MARY
Installation at the ETERNAL LIFE exhibition, Akureyri Municipal Art Museum, November 1996
In Iceland people are listed in the phone directory by their first name rather than their patronymic or family name. This makes it easy to find out how many people with the same first name have listed phones in a particular area. It is also customary for women to be listed as well as men.
In connection to the Eternal Life exhibition in Akureyri, Thorsteinsson wrote to all the women named Maria (Mary) in the local telephone directory asking them to cooperate in producing a work called Images of Mary. They were asked to choose any image of themselves, a photograph, drawing, painting or sculpture, and send it to the museum. An explanatory note was included, stating what the images would be used for and why. Altogether, 36 pictures were received (from a possible 49); they came in all sizes and were mostly photographs, although there was also a drawing and a painting. The images were set up in a small space leading off from one of the exhibition rooms, where they were illuminated by candles.
'In the chapel atmosphere created in this way, the Marys of Akureyri, and other exhibition visitors, could see themselves in a temporary sublimated context and reflect at the same time that even the holiest of all Marys came from an environment as ordinary as their own.
The images were returned to their owners after the exhibition and thus merged back into the routine pattern of daily life.