Happy new year 2016! | A few highlights from the year 2015
The Icelandic Art Center wishes everyone a happy new year!
2015 was an eventful year for the Icelandic art scene, with major events such as the Venice Biennale, Sequences Art Festival, Momentum and the numerous exhibitions Icelandic artists held and participated in both locally and abroad.
Following is an annual with a few highlights of the year, giving a glimpse of what has been going on.
The Mosque by Christoph Büchel in the Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
La Biennale di Venezia was held for the 56th time from 9 May – 22 November 2015. The Icelandic contribution to the biennale was The Mosque, a project initiated by artist Christoph Büchel in collaboration with the Muslim communities in Venice and in Iceland, curated by Nína Magnúsdóttir. The Icelandic Pavilion saw an abrupt ending when the City of Venice closed the pavilion after only two weeks’ time, claiming that the Mosque was a place of worship and not an artwork. The Icelandic Art Center denied this definition and made attempts to re-open the pavilion, without success. Thus, the Icelandic pavilion at the Venice Biennale remained closed throughout the exhibition period. The project still reached wide publicity locally and internationally. Artsy has named the project among the 20 biggest art news stories of 2015.
New York in March – WAY OVER, The Armory Show and Björk’s retrospective at MoMA
In March, the Icelandic Art Center was present in New York in relation to Björk’s retrospective at MoMA and the Armory Show. The Art Center hosted a party as part of a new project – WAY OVER – initiated by the center to support the Icelandic art scene outside of Iceland. The party, held at Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir a.k.a. Shoplifter‘s studio in Greenpoint, included a cake installation by New York based artists Egill Kalevi Karlsson and Þuríður Rós Sigurþórsdóttir, video works by Curver Thoroddsen and Habbý Ósk as well as performances by The Icelandic Love Corporation and Shoplifter herself.
Björk’s retrospective at MoMA included works by The Icelandic Love Corporation and Shoplifter, who earlier in the year had a solo exhibition at Capricious 88 in New York. Artnet News has recently named Shoplifter amongst the 50 most exciting artists in Europe today.
The Icelandic Art Center has started preparation for the next edition of WAY OVER to take place in Europe in 2016.
Sequences real time art festival held in Reykjavík for the seventh time
The seventh edition of Sequences real time art festival was held in Reykjavík in April 2015. For the first time it was decided to seek abroad for artistic director and Alfredo Cramerotti, director of MOSTYN, Wales’ leading contemporary art institute, was appointed. The festival included the works of 25 local and international artists and proudly presented pioneering performance artist Carolee Schneemann as honorary artist. The festival program included a great combination of both established and emerging artists, whose exhibitions and performances spread over 10 venues in the city. Artists included Ed Atkins, Sally O’Reilly, Finnbogi Pétursson, Jordan Baseman, Margrét H. Blöndal, Helga Griffiths, Kris Lemsalu, Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir and more. The festival was a great success and reached wide attention locally and internationally. Preparation for the next Sequences festival has begun and in the year of 2016, Sequences will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Momentum 8: Tunnel Vision
The 8th Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art, held in Moss, Norway, from 13 June – 27 September, presented among others artists Ryan Trecartin, Julius von Bismarck, Sofia Hultén and the Icelandic artists Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir a.k.a Shoplifter, Steingrímur Eyfjörð, Bjarni H. Þórarinsson and Steina. This year’s edition of the biennial was curated by Birta Guðjónsdóttir, Jonatan Habib Engqvist, Stefanie Hessler and Toke Lykkeberg, exploring tunnel vision as a cultural and artistic condition. Today’s networked culture not only generates hyper connectivity, but also various disconnects. People and communities can thrive in bubbles of their own. Momentum 8 focused on artists and cultural producers who inhabit worlds of their own logic and follow their thoughts all the way through.
Icelandic artists exhibited extensively abroad in the year 2015. The largest exhibition of Ragnar Kjartansson’s works in the year 2015 was a solo exhibition at Palais de Tokyo in Paris which runs until 10 January 2016. Kjartansson’s works were exhibited in many other parts of the world, for example at Villa Toronto in Kanada, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, at Perth International Arts Festival in Australia and in Reykjavík Gallery i8 hosted an exhibition of his video work-series Me and My Mother.
Elín Hansdóttir created a new spatial and filmic installation at her solo exhibition at KW in Berlin and in September, Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson participated in a group show also at KW in Berlin, where their work Dein Land existiert nicht was put up on the facade of the KW-building.
A few other notable exhibitions in 2015:
Dieter Roth and Music – Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
Double Bind – group exhibition at Rupert, Vilnius, including the works of Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson and Berglind Jóna Hlynsdóttir
Egill Sæbjörnsson – P.L.A.Y. with Things at Young Projects, Los Angeles
Erla S. Haraldsdóttir – Solo exhibition at Kalmar Konstmuseum, Sweden
Helgi Þórsson – Villa Bergström, Stockholm
Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir – Listen to the Sirens, Gibraltar
Kunstschlager på ratten – Exhibition at Studio 44, Stockholm
Magnús Logi Kristinsson – Streetlevel Festival in Helsinki,
Margrét Blöndal – Galerie Fischer, Berlin
Ragnheiður Gestsdóttir, Theresa Himmer and Emily Weiner – Speak Nearby at Soloway, New York
Una Margrét Árnadóttir & Örn Alexander Ámundason – SØ, Copenhagen
Þorgerður Ólafsdóttir – Solo exhibition at Demon’s Mouth, Oslo
— More information and list of other exhibitions can be found on the Icelandic Art Center’s blog: http://icelandicartcenter.is/blog/
Festivals in Iceland
Reykjavík Arts Festival was held for the 29th time last spring. The festival featured an extensive visual art program with close to thirty visual art exhibitions and performances, including for example the works of the Guerrilla Girls and Dorothy Iannone. It was recently announced that after the next festival in the spring of 2016, Reykjavík Arts Festival will become a biannual festival like it used to be from 1970-2005.
Cycle Music and Art Festival was held for the first time in August in Kópavogur. The festival is a new platform for exploring and exhibiting the meeting point of creative worlds, producing and presenting works that reach outside the traditional boundaries of discipline, craft and process. Among participants in the festival were Ólafur Elíasson, the Icelandic Love Corporation and Simon Steen-Andersen and rising stars such as Eyvind Gulbrandsen, Skark Ensemble and Pinquins. Nadim Samman, co-director of Import Projects, editor of Near East Magazine and curator at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, was the curator of the exhibition New Release at Kópavogur Art Museum – Gerðarsafn. On 5 December Cycle traveled to Berlin and exhibited a few of the keyworks at the Import Project gallery.
A! Performance Art Festival was inaugurated 3-6 September in Akureyri in the north of Iceland. A! will become an annual festival, aiming at leading together performances from the fields of visual art, theater and dance.
We hope 2016 will be exciting and joyous for all – full of art, culture and happy times.