The Here You Are theme year kicks off with a show by internationally renowned New York-based Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, aka Shoplifter, with a show called Nervescape VIII.

Mounted in the fifth-floor galleries, the show is a furry installation that envelopes the viewer in its embrace, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the touchable piece.

In the soft and colourful art space, you can forget the world for a moment and simply sit back or enjoy a concert or a panel discussion. The exhibition urges the audience to participate, relax, hang out, share experiences or to just blow away the cobwebs from one’s everyday routine.

Hair, both real and fake, is Shoplifter’s signature material and trademark. Hair is like “a remnant of the wildness that we possess,” says Shoplifter. She sees hair as being associated with fashion, self-expression and vanity. As a raw material for art, hair evokes mixed feelings: a furry work of art can be appealing and repelling at the same time.

The Kiasma installation forms part of the Nervescape series. The work is partly inspired by the artist’s interest in neuroscience and brain research. Tangles of hair resemble nerve cells in their organic structure, but Shoplifter wants her art to impact our synapses in a more direct sense. She believes that when we are exposed to vibrant colours, it triggers the release of serotonin in the brain.

Shoplifter wants to inspire feelings of joy and happiness, as she believes “happy people tend to treat each other more nicely.”

Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, aka Shoplifter (b. 1969, Reykjavik), has exhibited domestically in Reykjavik and internationally in Houston, Brisbane, New York, Stockholm and London.

She took the name Shoplifter because her Icelandic name proved too difficult for many foreigners to pronounce. “Shoplifter” is one of many misheard versions of her name. Shoplifter’s art dwells comfortably on the borders between art, fashion, traditional craft and design.

She will represent Iceland at the 2019 Venice Biennale.