Ari Sigvaldason knew he was interested in photography, but it wasn’t until February when he quit his job of 15 years as a reporter with national broadcaster RUV that he was able to fully realise his passion.
Sigvaldason is the founder of newly opened photography gallery and store, Fotografí, on Skólavörðurstígur in downtown Reykjavík. The plan is to hold monthly exhibitions by local photographers. The first instalment is by international award winning Morgunblaðið photographer Ragnar Axelsson, aka RAX.
The minimalist-style exhibition room currently houses twelve of RAX’s trademark black and white prints depicting the life and unforgiving weather of some of the world’s most northerly inhabited areas including Greenland, Canada, and of course Iceland. RAX has been photographing life in this area of the world for over 15 years and has published a book entitled Faces of the North about vanishing lifestyles in the North Atlantic. His work has been exhibited throughout Europe and he has received more than 20 Icelandic photojournalists awards and several international prizes.
Sigvaldason says the idea for the new gallery received a lot of interest from the Icelandic photography community. “I phoned 20 to 30 photographers and asked them if they wanted to have their photos on sale. I got a lot of support – I had people saying ‘Yes, why isn’t there a place like this in Reykjavík?’” he said.
Fotografí displays work from over twenty artists, including international award winning photographer Páll Stéfansson, Damine Peyret and Ari Sigvaldason himself. “I’m aiming at selling photos as gifts. We have a variety of pictures on sale – from 3,000 ISK to over 300,000 ISK,” Sigvaldason explained.
But if that’s above your budget, Sigvaldason’s postcard series offers an interesting alternative to the generic scenes of Gullfoss and Geysir stacking Reykjavík souvenir stands. Dubbed the Depressed in Reykjavík series, postcards depicting everyday life in Iceland – from Icelandic cuisine, family and agriculture to dark winter nights – are sold for 200 ISK.
“We try to shoot scenes of Icelandic life – different scenes, unlike what is on other postcards,” Sigvaldason said.
A similar approach is taken to the black and white Shot in Reykjavík poster series, sold for 1900 ISK. Fotografí also stocks a wide range of photographic books, shelved stylishly amongst old and antique cameras.
Even the exterior of the gallery hasn’t escaped Sigvaldason’s creative efforts. The Fotografí sign is composed from photographs of objects and parts of buildings – the F being a road marking, the O a chain, the T a window and so on. An antique camera with a makeshift shutter made from a bicycle bell sits propped in a rock just outside the entrance.
A collection of Páll Stéfansson’s photographs from Africa will follow RAX’s exhibition, ending June 30.
Fotografí, Skólavörðustígur 4A,
101 Reykjavík, tel: 551 6800