isthisit? is pleased to present Saemundur Thor Helgason: Solar Plexus Pressure Belt™ (2018). The exhibition marks the launch of Solar Plexus Pressure Belt™, an anxiety reducing device engineered and designed by Saemundur Thor Helgason in collaboration with with fashion designer Agata Mickiewicz. The exhibition also features a new written contribution from Sophie Hoyle and a graphic identity by Gabríel Markan. The work is a continuation of a larger project called ‘Félag Borgara’, (eng. Fellowship of Citizens) an interest group founded by the artist in Reykjavik in October 2017 with the aim of lobbying for basic income in Iceland through apolitical means.

Financial insecurity can cause frustration and worries that affect the nervous system. The Solar Plexus is a dense cluster of nerve cells and supporting tissue located behind the stomach in the region of the celiac artery just below the diaphragm. It is also known as the celiac plexus and is a crucial connection to the brain. The Solar Plexus Pressure Belt™ is a Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) technology that stimulates the Solar Plexus and calms an anxious mind - a medicine-free treatment.

The design simulates a finger pressing into the solar plexus area

Solar Plexus Pressure Belt™ was inspired by Helgason’s own experiences as a creative practitioner suffering from anxiety and panic attacks in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. A decade later the mode of economic ‘crisis’ has become normalised. Temporary, insecure forms of employment that were once marginal, are now integral to the function of the economy, and part of its inherent logic (Berardi, 2005b). These structural changes are directly impacting the laborer’s body and neural system. The design of the belt simulates a finger pressing into the solar plexus area, a motion and coping mechanism Helgason discovered would reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, leading him to further investigate the underlying neurological processes. Acknowledging his own entanglement within late capitalism, Helgason proposes a new product, the Solar Plexus Pressure Belt™, designed to temporarily reduce discomfort until an economic system is found that provides financial security to all inhabitants.

With the help of Karolina Fund we would like to finance the production of the BETA edition of the Solar Plexus Pressure Belt™ for testing and feedback purposes.

Those who support the project of €250 or more will receive a limited BETA edition of the belt together with a transparent plexiglass torso. When not worn, it serves as a artwork in a limited edition of 50 (signed and numbered).

This project is produced by Fellowship of Citizens, an interest group founded in october 2017 with the aim of lobbying for basic income. By supporting this project, you also contribute to their good work.

Saemundur Thor Helgason (b. 1986, Reykjavík) is an Icelandic artist based between Amsterdam and London. He holds an MFA from Goldsmith University, London and a BA from Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam. Helgason is the co-founder of HARD-CORE, an Amsterdam and London based Art Startup, developing algorithmic curatorial methods since 2011 and Cosmos Carl, a platform parasite that only hosts hyperlinks provided by artists and curators. His works have been shown most recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia, arebyte Gallery, London, UK, FUTURA, Prague, Czech Republic, Harbinger, Reykjavik, Iceland and at Goethe Institut, Beijing, China.

Sophie Hoyle is an artist and writer whose practice explores an intersectional approach to post-colonial, queer, feminist, anti-psychiatry and disability issues. Their work looks at the relation of the personal to (and as) political, individual and collective anxieties, and how alliances can be formed where different kinds of inequality and marginalisation intersect. They relate personal experiences of being queer, non-binary and part of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) diaspora to wider forms of structural violence. From lived experience of psychiatric conditions and trauma, or PTSD, they began to explore the history of biomedical technologies rooted in state and military surveillance and control.

Agata Mickiewicz is a Polish fashion designer based between Reykjavik and Berlin. Mickiewicz graduated from the fashion design department of Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2010. Her work has been featured in magazines and blogs worldwide. Fashion houses Mickiewicz has worked for include Victor&Rolf, Amsterdam (2012) and Rick Owens, Paris (2014-15) and she took part in the fashion reality TV show ‘Project Runway’ (2015).

Gabríel Markan is a Reykjavik based graphic- and type designer and founder of Gnax Type type foundry. Gabríel graduated from the graphic design department at Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2017 and has since worked as a freelance graphic- and type designer for various clients in Iceland, Europe and India.

Karolina Fund​

Solar Plexus, by Sophie Hoyle

The exhibition was kindly supported by Myndlistarsjóður & Myndstef, Iceland.