2008 Posts

Iceland Facing Economic Storms

Poor Iceland, a work by artist Sigurður Guðmundsson.

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland Facing Economic Storms

JÓN PROPPÉ

Icelanders are used to depressions. They arrive with dreary regularity, once or twice a week, throughout the nine-month winter, bringing rain, storms and snow. The one we face now, however, is of an entirely different order: A financial meltdown of unprecedented scope that has crippled the economy, slashed the value of the currency and given us 5.5% unemployment with things only expected to get worse, at least in the short term. No one knows how long this will last or just how bad it is going to get.

With the whole world in recession, Iceland will have to rely mostly on its own resources to weather this storm, despite loans from the International Monetary Fund and friendly governments. For those who had been living high in the period of easy credit and umhampered free-market politics the adjustments will be hard to make. For the rest of us, however, the crisis may represent a chance to rediscover other values and find our way to a more sustainable future. A key to that will be our commitment to the country’s cultural roots and the creative spirit of the inhabitants.

The image above shows a work by artist Sigurður Guðmundsson, an enamel sign reading Poor Iceland. Though certainly appropriate now, the work was in fact produced soon after the American-led invasion of Iraq and is part of a series, the others reading Poor America and Poor Iraq.

 


List: Icelandic Art News is published by the Center for Icelandic Art, a cooperative project of Iceland’s museums and artists’ organisations. List is edited by Christian Schoen and Jón Proppé. If you wish not to receive announcements of our new issues – or you want to contact us for any other reason – please send a mail to list@cia.is.

Fighting the Depression

Fighting the Depression

Depression? Because the days are getting shorter, because of the heavy south-westerly winds bringing so much rain, because of the trees losing their leaves and the moss its colour—or because of the economical crisis? One solution to the darkness in Reykjavík comes courtesy of Yoko Ono. After the inauguration of her Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island last year (see LIST #16), on October 9—John Lennon’s birthday—she will again light the tower, its vertical beam of light shining through the darkness. Despite the recession in Iceland, all cultural institutions are continuing with their programs at full force. Though it was noticeably more difficult to find financial support from private companies, the third-annual SEQUENCES real-time art festival opens on October 11 with a jam-packed program including joint projects with the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. Another way of fighting an upcoming depression is: leaving. You could either go west to meet Icelandic artists in the US—Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir, for example, who is exhibiting in San Antonio, or Guðjón Bjarnason in New York. The other option is to go east. At Frieze Art Fair in London, you can enjoy the company of Icelandic artists and bands—and even Icelandic beer in the late but legendary Sirkus bar, which will be temporarily rebuilt to intervene in the regular art market fuzz.


List: Icelandic Art News is published by the Center for Icelandic Art, a cooperative project of Iceland’s museums and artists’ organisations. List is edited by Christian Schoen and Jón Proppé. If you wish not to receive announcements of our new issues – or you want to contact us for any other reason – please send a mail to list@cia.is.

Attracting the Crowds

A Bimonthly Web Magazine: July / August 2008

Attracting the Crowds

After the success of the Reykjavík Arts Festival this spring, our eyes have turned to the activities of Icelandic artists abroad and, indeed, they have been busy, pulling in visitors to exhibitions in Italy, New York and elsewhere. Out of the summer’s crop of shows we focus on the Icelandic participants in Manifesta 7 and on Ólafur Elíasson’s phenomenal success in New York, though there is much else that will have to wait for more detailed treatment in our next issue.

In this issue, we also introduce Katrín Friðriksdóttir who will be one of three Icelandic artists participating in the Liverpool Biennial in autumn, also covered more extensively in our next issue.

 


LIST Icelandic Art News. Page last updated 13 August 2008. Texts and images copyright © 2008 by the authors. For inquiries and contact information see about us.

Summer is for Art

A Bimonthly Web Magazine: May/June 2008

The image shows a photographed by Pétur Thomsem (b. 1973), produced especially for the cover of our 2008 printed version of Icelandic Art news

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer is for Art

Just as we were getting ready to put this issue on-line, an earthquake of more than 6 on the Richter Scale hit southern Iceland and while the tremor was felt all over the country and there was considerable damage to property only 50 km from Reykjavík, no one was seriously hurt. This was the strongest quake to hit since 2000 at least.

This certainly will not upset the plans of Icelandic artists who will be exhibiting widely this summer, including a contingent taking part in MANIFESTA7. New York is also seeing its share of Icelandic art with the blockbuster show of Ólafur Elíasson at MOMA and PS1 complemented by a collective exhibition of contemporary art at Scandinavia House and another at Luhring Augustine Gallery.

In Iceland, the Reykjavík Arts Festival has opened with exhibitions running until mid-summer.

 


LIST Icelandic Art News. Page last updated 29 May 2008. Texts and images copyright © 2008 by the authors. For inquiries and contact information see about us.

Looking Forward to Spring

A Bimonthly Web Magazine: February/March 2008

Image from the video “The Tent Lady’s Hospitality” by The Icelandic Love Corporation, 2008, on display at the Iceland festival in Brussels.

 

 

 

 

Looking Forward to Spring

While the winter in Iceland has been particularly hard this year, with hurricane-force storms arriving almost weekly for most of January and February, the art scene has been relatively calm. Several artists travelled to Brussles to take part in the opening of a major Icelandic festival currently in progress there, covered by Christian Schoen in an article in this issue. Mostly, it seems, people are saving their strenght for the big events to come already in May when we will see the opening of the Reykjav�k Arts Festival, now for the second time dedicated primarily to the visual arts. The festival will see some 40 art openings in the space of a few days around the middle of the month. Even before then, though, CIA.IS will be holding a major international conference on urban plannig and public art under the heading Reinventing Harbour Cities. Speakers will include Vito Acconci and �lafur El�asson, among many others, and we will cover the programme extensively here in the web magazine and in a special printed issue to be published in May.

In this issue we also highlight three Icelandic artists. Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir has already been mentioned in recent issues, especially in connection with her nomination for the Icelandic Visual Arts Award in 2007, but readers may be less familiar with Sigurður Árni Sigurðsson (the subject of an essay here by Jón Proppé) or Húbert Nói Jóhannesson (interviewed here by Christian Schoen). Both have, however, contributed extensively to Icelandic art in the last two decades and we hope this introduction will encourage readers to seek out more information on their works.

 


LIST Icelandic Art News. Page last updated 20 March 2008. Texts and images copyright © 2008 by the authors. For inquiries and contact information see about us.