From Iceland — There’s Space For Everyone In The Greenhouse

There’s Space For Everyone In The Greenhouse

Published June 21, 2024

There’s Space For Everyone In The Greenhouse
Photo by
Joana Fontinha for The Reykjavík Grapevine

Litla Gróðurhúsa Familia and the Pikknikk concert series provide a platform for all

It’s no secret that Reykjavík is a creative place. While the once gritty DIY aesthetic of the downtown core has been polished up and sterilised for the tourists in recent years, and we currently find ourselves in another cycle of lamentation over the loss of live venues and spaces for burgeoning artists to share their talents with the world, the creativity remains. Luckily for Reykjavík, there are people like José Luis Anderson and their team of collaborators working to provide platforms for creativity to thrive.

Though José Luis’ contributions to the scene are evident in their own musical endeavours under the moniker Andervel and through their curation of the hafnar.haus concert series at Mengi earlier this year, they have even more irons on the fire.

In collaboration with the Nordic House, José Luis is once again sporting their curator hat to bring to life the fourth iteration of the Pikknikk summer concert series. Over the course of six Sundays, the idyllic greenhouse behind the Nordic House will be transformed into an intimate venue for music lovers of all ages to come together and bask in sweet sounds and (hopefully) sunlight. It all gets underway this year with Estonian musician Possimiste performing on June 23. She’ll be followed in subsequent weeks by Sápmi performing arts collective Kompani Bárrogiera, Iranian/French composer Soheil Peyghambari, Icelandic outfit Los bomboneros, and more.

We want to provide a space for them to tell us about what they do, to showcase their work. It’s a space to talk freely about what the artist wants to talk about.

“With the Pikknikk series we are always trying to give space to artists that haven’t played before in the series,” José Luis says of this year’s round of performances. “It has been curated keeping in mind gender representation and including people from other places.”

That eye on representation is something that carries through to another project José Luis has been operating out of the same greenhouse: Litla Gróðurhúsa Familia.

“With Litla Gróðurhúsa Familia we are focusing on offering a platform to balance the representation in mainstream Icelandic media,” José Luis says of the video podcast initiative that launched in April and is in the process of releasing its six-episode debut season. “Basically, what we do is invite an artist or an art practitioner to talk and perform. We want to provide a space for them to tell us about what they do, to showcase their work. It’s a space to talk freely about what the artist wants to talk about. So we discuss topics such as immigration, diversity, how it is to frame oneself in the Icelandic cultural scene, and so on.”

With inclusion being a key focus of the Litla Gróðurhúsa Familia series, many of the artists featured are, like José Luis, immigrants who have chosen to make their home in Iceland. “We talk about that as well,” José Luis explains, “how it’s been to come to Iceland, how welcoming it’s been and how it’s been to try to make a career here and to try to contribute to society.”

Building a family

The concept for Litla Gróðurhúsa Familia was kicking around for some time, but it was after taking over the curation of the Pikknikk concert series in 2023 that José Luis began taking steps to make it a reality. “Several artists were approaching us wanting to do more, wanting to find the space to play,” José Luis recalls. “So that’s one of the things that motivated me to start Litla Gróðurhúsa Familia — to try and offer a platform to contribute to Reykjavik’s cultural scene and try to strengthen it.”

It’s within another hub of creativity — the hafnar.haus creative space — that José Luis found his Litla Gróðurhúsa Familia family. They are cinematographer Martyna Karolina Daniel, set designer Sigrún Hanna Ómarsdóttir Löve, visual designer Agnar Freyr Stefánsson, sound engineer Snorri Beck Magnússon, and videographer Patrik Ontkovic.

“It has been tricky to do this project, because we are not currently receiving any salary,” José Luis explains, though he’s quick to shout out Góði hirðirinn for supplying decor and 66 North for clothing. “So it’s very much a project that we all decided to do because we love this place. And we want to contribute and to show that it’s very nice when there is space for everybody and there is an audience for everybody.”

So far in its first season, Litla Gróðurhúsa Familia has welcomed the likes of Jelena Ciric, Sóley, Elham Fakouri, and Daria Testo and Khairkhan. “We thought that it would be very nice to bridge these two projects [at the Nordic House],” José Luis says. “So some of the artists that are going to take part in Pikknikk have also been part of the Litla Gróðurhúsa familia.”

Laying out the welcome mat

“It is very crucial in the project that everybody is welcome,” José emphasises. “In my experience since I came to Iceland, it’s been sometimes a little bit hard to find spaces in certain platforms or to be granted space to talk about your music or your art — especially when you are not Icelandic or when you are not one of the popular Icelandic artists. So what we want is to offer an alternative that makes no distinction between ‘you were born in Iceland and you have this many followers,’ versus someone coming to Iceland who really wants to contribute. So there is no ‘versus.’ We want to show that we are all in this together. There’s space for everybody.”

There is no “versus.” We want to show that we are all in this together. There’s space for everybody.

While in the future José Luis would like to see Litla Gróðurhúsa familia grow into a larger series of events or even a festival to bring the community together, for now their hope is just that people will tune in and open their minds to the various types of creativity that is blossoming here in Reykjavík.

“Find us online and just be kind to each other and try to give a helping hand to each other,” they say. “I think we can always benefit from that no matter where in society you are or whatever you do.”


The Pikknikk summer concert series kicks off its six-week run in the Nordic House’s greenhouse on June 23 at 15:00. Stream season 1 of the Litla Gróðurhúsa familia podcast series on YouTube @LitlaGrodurhusa.

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