A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015
Culture
Art
Capturing The World

Capturing The World

Published May 28, 2012

Some works of art take longer to finish than others. And some are perhaps never finished. Hreinn Friðfinnsson’s House Project is a case in point. The story begins a hundred years ago, in the summer of 1912. That summer, a character in Þórbergur Þórðarsson’s novel ‘Íslenskur aðall,’ (“Icelandic Aristocracy,” published in 1938), built a house inside out. The character, Sólon Guðmundsson, is based on a real person who lived in Ísafjörður, but “we know next to nothing about him,” Hreinn Friðfinnsson told me over the phone from Amsterdam, where he has lived for the past forty years. “He was a common worker at the start of the twentieth century, an eccentric outsider, but in Þórbergur’s mind outsiders were the Icelandic aristocracy.”
Building a house inside out
What captured Hreinn’s attention was the house, called Slunkaríki. “A house built inside out—that was the concept I wanted to play with,” he told me. “You could say that in this way you turn the whole world on its head.” And that is what Hreinn did in the summer of 1974, when he built a house inside out in the lava fields near Hafnarfjörður. “It’s a small wave to Sólon,” he says, and then recalled the building process in more detail. “This was when I didn’t really have a penny to my name and needed to borrow all over the place. So, when I had scraped enough money together, I found a professional carpenter and we drove into the lava fields; it was important to build the house where no other man-made structures were visible. We left the car and hadn’t really walked that far before we were all of a sudden at the edge of this crater—and we knew this was the place.”
After the house was built, it was photographed, and this became the real artwork. “It was built to be photographed,” Hreinn says. “So we built it, took pictures, and then we just let it be, and it has just stood there, abandoned.” Hreinn himself didn’t visit it again until the early 2000s. “By that time there were a number of holes in it. They were gun-made; a shooting association had a cabin nearby,” Hreinn says. Otherwise it was in pristine condition until the turn of the century; no vandalism had been committed.
Returning it outside in
The little house in the lava would however not be his last house. In 2009, Hreinn was asked to build a second house in a French sculpture park, and this time it would be different. “I had long toyed with the idea of turning the house back around, into a normal state. The house had been open to the world so long, so when you turn it inwards, it takes with it all its history,” Hreinn says.
“The first house itself never became a sculpture or official work of art; it was just a house hidden in nature where random travellers might encounter it,” he says, “but in France the house became a sculpture in a sculpture garden. You can’t enter it, but you can look around it, and you can look through the windows and see what’s inside. There are pictures on the walls and a copy of the first house as well as a model of a third house. There is also an unusually big asteroid found in Argentina, in Campo del Cielo.” Hreinn explains: “By having the asteroid there I reach as far as I can to take something from the outside world and put it inside the house.”
Capturing the world
Finally, the model of his third house, which could be seen floating around in the second house, premiered at Hafnarborg in Iceland this month. It has no walls. It’s simply a 3-D graphic—an outline of the original house in the original size, at the place where the original house stood. “Those boundaries between inside and outside have served their purpose. It’s sort of a question; it doesn’t have walls, there is no shelter, and you can be both inside of it and outside of it. You can ponder it; unlike the first, this house makes no statement,” he says. And what statement did the first house make? “It captures the whole world, except for itself. It turns the world on its axis.”
I wonder if the ghost houses left behind by the bubble years have altered the meaning of his house, but he brushed that suggestion aside: “There are no political connotations. Perhaps there is a philosophical meaning, threads that can be spun in all directions.” And thus concludes the story of the three houses—for now. Or five, if you include the original that Sólon built and the fictional one Þórbergur wrote about. And now those houses will return to a book published by Crymogea, and an exhibition in Hafnarborg, an art gallery in Hafnarfjörður.  



Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Dancers In The Dark

by

A funky bassline is bumping out of KEX Hostel as I walk up to its patio. As I pass the window, I hear the horns and lyrics of Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope.” I picture her smooth moves in the song’s music video and I already feel like dancing. Once inside, I duck quickly through the door into Gym & Tonic, trying to let in as little light as possible in the process. No lights, no lycra, no lies: it is pitch black when the door closes. (I can’t actually confirm that there is no spandex, but I certainly can’t see any.)

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Breathing Life Into Arts Education

by

With university becoming more expensive in many parts of the world, mainstream education tends to lean towards the former, feeding the idea that higher qualifications should serve first and foremost as a path to economic security rather than to an enlightened viewpoint. The “university experience” has come to mean both a kind of holiday camp for young adults to begin establishing themselves away from their family, and a programme of economically motivated and vocational-minded learning. Education, cast in such stark terms, can be seen as an investment to be weighed against future earning potential. Of course, not everyone sees it

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Pop Vomit

by

On the wall of a dark room in Reykjavík’s Hafnarhusið art museum, a stream of brightly coloured icons is fizzing out of the ground. Triggered by the tiniest sound, they erupt onto the wall at every footstep or word, tumbling into a huge pile and bobbing around like Pop Art Cheerios. Some are familiar, some are less so–classic cartoon characters wobble around alongside unfamiliar product logos and Chinese lettering. “This idea originated in Singapore,” says Mojoko, a.k.a. Steve Lawler, who works with programmer Shang Liang on the project. “It was designed for a children’s exhibition at a museum. We were

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Banksy In Iceland?

by

Banksy may have been to Iceland. A while ago. And he may have left a mark or two. This has not been verified, but whoever did the stencil accompanying this article would in any case surely acknowledge being under the distinguished anonymous British street-artist’s influence. We will leave it up to readers to figure out exactly where this is. The photo was taken by Claudia Regina, in 2012. Apparently, one Graham Lloyd also spotted the piece in 2012. Locals seem to have discovered the artwork more recently, as images shot this summer have started circulating on social media. Also in

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Urbanization On Paper: A European Narrative

by

Spark Design Space has a clean minimalist facade, a welcome place to rest your eyes next to the garishly painted corrugated tin front of its neighbour Kiki. The large glass windows show the dozens of posters tiled on the back walls of the building, each in a different colour and arranged to make a gradient from purple to red to orange to green in more subtle counterpoint to Kiki’s unsubtle rainbow. The posters are Paolo Gianfrancesco’s print show `Urban Shape,’ up now until September 26. Each one is a map of a different European capital, derived from the open source

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Tying A Ribbon On Biophilia

by

Sitting upstairs at Iðnó, pouring out a cup of coffee in a fetching fluorescent yellow ensemble, an animated Björk is expressing how pleased and surprised she is that people still want to talk about her work. “I spoke to someone earlier who had been online researching all the Biophilia set lists and comparing them,” smiles Björk, “and I was like, ‘respect!’ It’s crazy that people actually still care, or can be bothered.” She hasn’t done a press day for three years. The last time seems a long time ago, back when Biophilia was being unveiled to the world—the album app

Show Me More!