2006 Posts

A Dark but Lively Place

Icelandic Art News
A Bimonthly Web Magazine: December 2006

The photograph shows the Invasionistas burning money. Operating out of Kling & Bang Gallery, these New York-based artist staged several actions and performances during the Sequences festival.
The festival attracted a lot of attention in the capital and is set to be repeated next year and for years to come. In this isssue of List we interview Dr. Christian Schoen of CIA.IS and Nína Magnúsdóttir, festival coordinator, to learn more about it.
For even more on the Sequences festival, including pictures, go to www.sequences.is or see the coverage in the last issue of List.



Jón Proppé

A Dark but Lively Place

In a Reykjavík shrouded in winter darkness, the arts seem to play an even greater role than usual. Exhibitions, concerts, readings from new books and impromptu performances in galleries and cafés compete with the shopping malls in the weeks before Christmas, just when the consumer frenzy seems to be engulfing our small nation. Recent news of Icelanders abroad tends to paint the country as a place with money to burn as investors from our tiny island gobble up more of London’s high street, Copenhagen’s property market and Finnish airlines, but on the cultural front a more quiet expansion is taking place as, one by one, young Icelandic artists manage to attract attention in galleries and museum around the world.

An article in German daily Die Zeit from December 7 describes the Reykjavík art scene, calling the city a “place to envy”, a hot-house of art and action: “Art is everywhere in Reykjavík, there are always openings somewhere.” Indeed, there is plenty to see and foreign visitors to last October’s Sequences festival of time-based art in Reykjavík were not disappointed, though no doubt hard-pressed to cover everything with some 140 artists represented in performances, screenings and exhibitions. The festival coincided with the Airwaves festival of new music which has already established itself in recent years as a hot-spot of cool and this year featured more than 160 acts. Rolling Stone’s writer David Fricke was enthusiastic not only about the music but also wrote of the Aurora Borealis which lit up the sky as he ambled from one concert to the next. You had to be there!

Icelandic artists, however, are preparing for next year’s shows, not only in Iceland but, increasingly, abroad. In the news section of this issue we mention a few with many more to come. Most likely our readers will be able to see Icelandic art close to home this year. Preparations are also going ahead for Iceland’s participation in the Venice Biennale where we will be represented by Steingrímur Eyfjörð. We at List also have plans for Venice as we are going to take the opportunity to publish our first print issue for distribution there and elsewhere. Meanwhile we will continue to cover the activites of Icelandic artists here in our online journal with the next issue coming in early February as, hopefully, daylight begins to return our high latitude.

LIST Icelandic Art News. Page last updated 10 December 2006. Texts and images copyright © by the authors. For inquiries and contact information see about us.

Autum brings Awards, Festivals and Fresh Protests

August and September 2006

The picture shows artist Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir completing her piece in the Cologne Iceland Art Festival last winter, highlighting the ecological damage being done in the Icelandic highlands. Osk has spent most of this summer in the highlands, taking visitors to the areas that are now to be sunk under a reservoir to provide energy to a new aluminum smelting plant in eastern Icleand, a project that has mobilized many artists into protest.




Autum brings Awards, Festivals and Fresh Protests

CIA.IS hosts a new art festival this autumn, featuring time-based art by Icelanders and visitors from abroad, showing in venues all over town. Exhibitions are also opening in galleries and museums as the season gets under way and the Icelanders settle down after their summer adventrues – or not. Many are still angry and protesting loudly at the hydroelectric power station being built in Kárahnjúkar in the Icelandic highlands. The cause has mobilized many artists and the subject of conservation, multinational industry and the responsible use of natural resources is, and undoubtedly will be this winter, prominent in exhibitions and art events. We will try to sum up some of this activity in the next issue of List.

Meanwhile, readers can hear about the Icelandic Visual Arts Awards and Ólafur Elíasson’s participation in the Venice Architectual Biennale. We also welcome a new writer, Karolina Boguslawska, who documents the electrifying performances of the Gelitin group in Reykjavik this summer.


LIST Icelandic Art News. Page last updated 20 September 2006. Texts and images copyright © by the authors. For inquiries and contact information see about us.

Editorial: Sick for Home

Part of Katrín Sigurðardóttir’s work in the HOMESICK exhibition in Akureyri






Christian Schoen

Editorial: Sick for Home

It is abviously not anachronistic anymore to discuss the role of national or cultural identity. No, globalisation is not dead, but it seems that those who believed that a borderless market leads automatically to a homogeneous and peaceful cohabit of men have failed. More or less hidden in daily news the topic of identity is ubiquitous and the coming up football world cup will dominate this issue in the next months on a very superficial level. The globe seems to be shrinking to a village but does that consequently mean that this village will become our hometown? When an exhibition project brings together countries like Turkey, Israel, Switzerland and Iceland, there is an obvious temptation to compare the countries. While the combination of countries on the edge of the European Union is by no means coincidental, a comparative approach could at best be adopted playfully. In principle, the selected combination of countries is to be judged exemplarily since he project is not about finding conclusive answers but much more about asking general questions. The exhibition with the loaded title HOMESICK in Akureyri includes artists from four nations dealing with the overall question of identity. The show forms the starting point of a dynamic project. It is quite significant that this project, which raises the universal question of home, was kicked off in a rather small city close to the arctic circle before it will travel to the other participating countries. For us this is reason enough to focus on the topic of home in this issue. 

LIST Icelandic Art News. Page last updated 8 June 2006. Texts and images copyright © by the authors. For inquiries and contact information see about us.