A glimpse into (I)ndependent people
Occupying many of Reykjavík’s exhibition spaces these days are exhibitions that are part of (I)ndependent people, a visual art project focusing on Nordic collaborations and artist initiatives, curated by the Swedish curator Jonatan Habib Engqvist. No solo shows were admitted, in an attempt to relinquish, or at least momentarily place, the artists’ ego and subjectivity in parenthesis.
Some of the groups have worked together previously and others were formed specially for the project. There is also an attempt to explore the interesting subject of the nature of collaborations and artist initiatives. In my experience good collaboration is more than including a certain amount of people and crediting them for a piece, it is beyond taking out the self and each individual’s vision. It is the beauty of doing something bigger than anyone could have done on their own, and the dialogue, where ideas grow and expand in unexpected directions. And of course all the mess when that doesn’t work out…
I can say from my own experience, being part of one of the groups participating in the exhibition (for full disclosure: Kling & Bang), that the curator tried his very best to let the project grow organically and in many ways succeeded in doing so, trusting the artist groups to develop their own projects, often with good results. It is quite a challenge to put up such a large-scale project exploring and exhibiting collaborations, even applying some of their ways of working, on more than a superficial level. It can of course be questioned whether this is best accomplished having only the artists relinquish their subjectivity, while the institutions, the curator and other supporting structures work on a ‘business as usual’ basis. But enough about the project – on to the exhibitions. Following are glimpses in a few words and a lot of images from quite a few of them.
Volumes for Sound
at the Living Art Museum – until July 15th
For Volumes for Sound artists Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S. Davidson have created sculptures that can emit sound. By also showing them in a silent state, they enhance the silence as negative sound space. It turns silence into a volume of possibilities, as well as leaving in it a memory of sounds past.
Así Art Museum – until July 1st
A socially critical undertone can be felt in the three different projects of the exhibition at the ASÍ Art Museum.
Wooloo shows a documentary, New Life Horbelev, about a community project in a small Danish town where residents lent their TVs for a sculpture project, using the time otherwise spent in front of their TVs to build the sculpture. The documentary is shown on a TV borrowed from the museum’s director for the occasion.
at i8 – until June 30th
Open; wait, curated by Chris Fite-Wassilak consists of works on paper by Silvia Bächli and sculptures by Margrét Blöndal. The first word to spring to mind is “delicate”, but that does not really do the works justice – they are actually bold and daring, with their balanced presence oozing confidence.
at the Reykjavik Association of Sculptors – closed
The opening day was festive and good spirits surrounded the exhibition celebrating Endemi magazine’s third issue. Entering the industrial space of the Reykjavik Association of Sculptors, where the exhibition was held, is in itself charming and so is exploring its nooks and crannies, dramatically lit for the occasion. Especially successful were video works projected on the workshop walls in the largest hall and another one tucked away in the smallest basement room. Visiting the exhibition after the opening day, without the cheerful crowd, some of the works had trouble surviving the distinctive space.
at The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists – closed
A refreshing take on the (I)ndependent people project is M.E.E.H. (Magnús Sigurðarson, Elin Wikström, Erla Haraldsdóttir, Haraldur Jónsson) – a group of artists that had not previously worked together, but was formed out of an interest in collaborating and a feeling that the group would hit it off. Their project was not focused on the final outcome, the exhibition, but instead they put their efforts into communication and dialogues, challenging each other with assignments for a few weeks or months before the exhibition.
For the opening, instead of ostentatiously presenting their experiments, they put up a base for a few days where anyone was welcome to stop by and go through a tiny ritual that ended with an assignment being given to them. That way the project effortlessly reached beyond its borders; at least I heard stories of ambitious assignments joyfully taken on by participants. The site turned out to be a spot for communication and nurturing conversations, essential for an exhibition focusing on collaborations. Perhaps this tiny, low-key project most successfully demonstrated quality collaboration.
National Gallery – until September 2nd
In an attempt to explore and show the structures of collaborations a few artist groups and institutions were invited to exhibit at the National Gallery. The research projects on the interesting topic are certainly important and valid as such, but the works barely surpass illustrated information and it is questionable whether this presentation is best suited to an exhibition hall at the National Gallery.
Kling & Bang – until June 16th
1857 exhibits pictures and letters documenting a message in a bottle sent a few months ago, inviting the finder to Iceland for the Reykjavik Art Festival, instead of the artists. If not found in time for the festival, the artists planned to go and look for it. A kassen’s exhibition takes up most of the exhibition space with monochromes and photographs. The photographs show mass-produced domestic objects, such as a dictionary, a chair, a bicycle and a box of pens, and next to each photograph is a monochrome of custom-made paint, the pigment of which being made from exactly that object pulverized.
The Reykjavík Art Museum – Hafnarhús – until September 2nd
The Reykjavík Art Museum houses most of the project’s exhibitors, nine in all.