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CYCLE Festival: Understanding Icelandic Sovereignty

CYCLE Festival: Understanding Icelandic Sovereignty

Jenna Mohammed
Words by
Photos by
Courtesy of CYCLE

Published September 21, 2017

Iceland’s political history is one that is unique and thought provoking. Coming up on 100 years of independence, Iceland’s vivid culture and past will be showcased in Cycle – Sovereign | Colony (CSC), a lively art project consisting of works by various artists in visual art, music, and talks. For four weeks over the course of September at Kópavogur Art Museum, various creative platforms will be demonstrated with an emphasis on social engagement.

Cycle will focus on and celebrate Icelandic sovereignty. Sara S. Öldudóttir, one of two curators for the show, states that this year’s iteration will explore Iceland’s relationship with its neighboring regions, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Denmark. “More people have started to do research on applying post-colonial theory to Icelandic history and its neighboring countries, Greenland and Faroe Islands, whom still belong to the Danish realm” she says. The aim is to raise a new perspective for the public.

Two sides of the same coin

“We are looking into Icelandic history along with the critical and dynamic time in nation building,”Sara explains. “We are asking ourselves questions about the nature of nationalist sentiment—what of this sentiment is appropriate to regain and what can we share in modern Icelandic society? These processes of independence are dynamic in Greenland and Faroe Islands.” The cross-cultural association of Cycle is what makes this exhibit extraordinary. With emphasis on Greenland and the Faroe Islands, these countries’ ties with the Danish monarchy are also mixed into the showcase.

“More people have started to do further research on applying post-colonial theory to Icelandic history.”

Sara speaks of these nations’ connection in the art project: “There are different moments in history, and these neighbouring countries share a lot of heritage, but also have very distinct versions of relating to the Danish kingdom. It’s an interesting moment in time.” Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands all share a common history in some ways, but have different views of the same story. Greenland and the Faroe Islands have both played with the idea of developing their own constitutions, and breaking away from a constitutional monarchy. Sara explains this would be a huge step in enhancing their independence. Cycle will look at Iceland’s colonial history, but in order for this to be done, it is necessary to look at the other Nordic states that have played a role in in its past as well.

Collective arts

Cycle creates a space where people who have an existing interest in the topic and those who are newly curious can mingle and engage in various forms of art. Featured artists in the festival are working on exhibiting national identity and history. An invitation has been extended to several artists and scholars from Greenland and the Faroe Islands to aid in creating a more collective experience. In the permanent exhibition there are six artists including American Andrew Rancville and Danish Jannette Ehlers, as well as Icelandic artists Ragnar Kjartansson, Darri Lorenzen, and Ólafur Ólafsson, who is collaborating with Libia Castro. Many of the participants featured are a mix of scholars, artists, and students from all age groups. The diverse and talented lineup makes Cycle a festival not to be missed this season.

There are also various workshops, presentations, and film screenings that will take place over the upcoming weeks as part of Cycle. Overall, there is a wide range of content to consume, in whatever medium you desire.

A full list of exhibits, live programs and set times can be found at www.cycle.is.


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