Lost Manual opening at Künstlerhaus Bethanien


Una Björg Magnúsdóttir is set to open her final exhibition, “Lost Manuals” on the 11th of April 2024 in Berlin, during her closing month at Künstlerhaus Bethanien and residency, which the artist commenced in the spring of 2023. The residency stay is funded by Ministry of Culture and Viljandi, Memorial Fund.

The exhibition "Lost Manuals" makes an effort to portray an empty room or rather an emptied room. An emptied room is unmasked by its remains; greasy residue, bleached walls, and dust. Remnants only contain so much information and can therefore evoke a narrative, one that was never there before.

In the exhibition Una presents new work that plays on the awkwardness of absent objects. The walls of the gallery are dressed with wooden panels that display faint images such as bunting, floral motifs, square and oval outlines, and other less definitive forms. The images represent objects that were not meant to leave a mark, still, their presence lingers like a faded shadow ingrained within the wood, a subtle yet unmistakable reminder of the absence of the objects. But the images are only accomplices in a game, and the time implied is as absent as the objects.

Magnúsdóttir's work navigates the intricacies of beauty, values, and human existence, employing texture and value-laden materials with subtlety and precision. Her compositions, seemingly simple and unassuming, belie a nuanced complexity. Through the manipulation of unremarkable objects, she instigates a contemplation of the fine line between reality and imitation, urging viewers to question societal norms and perceptions.


Una Björg Magnúsdóttir (b. 1990) studied visual art at Iceland University of the Arts and pursued graduate studies at ÉCAL in Switzerland, graduating from there in 2018. Her work has been exhibited in various places for example at the Reykjavik Art Museum, Gerðarsafn Art Museum(IS), Y Gallery(IS), Vane Gallery in Newcastle(UK), KEIV in Athens, GES-2 in Moscow and the North Atlantic House in Copenhagen.

Since last spring, Una Björg Magnúsdóttir has been working hard at Künstlerhaus Bethanienand getting inspired in Berlin for her one year residency there. During her stay Una has had access to a powerful, international contact network; curators, museum staff, journalists and others who work in the field. Una prepared for her solo exhibition in Iceland entitled "Treacherous Silver Sheen" for the ASÍ Art Museum. Una has been working on Lost Manuals for the past months. She says that the exhibition will explore how replicas mirror the originals and question the purpose of replicas or copies. This can refer to a chameleons, empathy or even doppelgängers. Una Björg works mainly with sculpture. The hyper-familiar often appears in her work, with sculptural stage designs that narrate scenes that feel oddly familiar yet out of place. By imitating reality with obvious artificiality, Una renders common scenes with unsuspected objects, sounds and fragrances.

Una Björg Magnúsdóttir ASI

Una Björg Magnúsdóttir, Treacherous Silver Sheen, 2023.

Una Björg installing 2023.

Una Björg Magnúsdóttir installing Treacherous Silver Sheen, 2023.

Una Björg - Künstlerhaus Bethanien - Studio Visit

Still from an interview with Una Björg. Produced by Künstlerhaus Bethanien.

Previous Icelandic Art Center residents at Künstlerhaus Bethanien are Anna Júlía FirðbjörnsdóttirStyrmir Örn Guðmundsson 2020-21 and current resident Elín Hansdóttir. Steinunn Anna Mörtudóttir is set to start her residency this year.

The Ministry of Culture and Business Affairs and Viljandi fund the project.

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