From Iceland — NO, NAY, NEVER


Published August 20, 2004


The museum itself has primarily been a venue for exhibitions and various creative events, but it is becoming increasingly focused on its position as a setting for both domestic and foreign artists to exchange opinions and ideas. This exhibition covers three cities simultaneously (Reykjavík!, Berlin! and Akureyri!), with 6 artists’ work displayed in each location.

Rather than choosing the specific works for display, Hallsson has allowed each artist to choose which of their own pieces will be shown, whether new or old works. There are various contemporary techniques used in addition to some traditional forms, but the exhibit pushes the typical boundaries of customary gallery fare by displaying some of the works exclusively on the internet, radio, television or in newspapers.

Ulrike Schoeller, a German artist whose work will be part of the Reykjavík division, uses arguably mundane but nevertheless atypical techniques such as projecting text onto the street. She is also prone to artistic efforts such as stealthily laying down on the street, largely unnoticed by anyone, which obviously begs the old standard, ‘If an artist lays down in the street and no one cares, is it still art?’ However, in a country where there is no visibly homeless or destitute populace, such acts may supply a missing dose of socially-charged displays.

Another artist whose creations will be presented locally is Jóna Hlíf Halldórsdóttir, whose work consists of video recordings of everyday conduct, or, for example, the repetition of a single word. The questions asked by the museum are as follows: “…is some perfectly commonplace item becoming a monstrosity? Or, is the normative criterion itself frightening?” Even if answering such questions disinterests you in every way, you may still find this meta-presentation enjoyable. After all, even those who don’t pay attention to normative criterion can still have a keen eye for the illogical.

The uncertainty of the exhibit does by nature provoke curiosity, and the final product will at least be distinctive. The artists participating in the Akureyri and Berlin shows sound either terribly appealing or horribly meta-meta, depending on your perspective. There are definitely some interest-provoking descriptions, such as the following of Magnús Sigurðarson, who will be featured in the Akureyri show: “He works with Icelandic reality, which is unreal, goes hunting with the Icelandic flag, generates a storm, returns as a screen actor.” This component of playfulness makes the exhibit seem magnetic and unavoidable. Still, whoever answers the question about normative criterion wins.

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