From Iceland — Experimental Museum

Experimental Museum

Published May 9, 2008

Experimental Museum

The annual Reykjavík Arts Festival is just behind the corner and as usual, the Reykjavík Art Museum will present a packed programme for the occasion. One of the festival’s highlights is the Experiment Marathon Reykjavik, an exhibition and program of various events, organised by the Reykjavík Art Museum and the Serpentine Gallery in London. On Friday, May 16, the museum at Hafnarhús will transform into a laboratory for the next three months where over forty leading local and international artists, architects, film-makers and scientists will create an environment of invention through a series of installations, screenings, performances and experimental films.

The Marathon is curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Director of International Projects and Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes for the Serpentine Gallery in London; in collaboration with artist Ólafur Elíasson. They’ve done everything in their power to promote art and science to the public in a diverse and entertaining way with numerous intriguing experiments, exhibitions, performances, workshops and panel discussions exploring the connection between art and science. To enrich the whole experience, the audience is supposed to take part in the events.

The focus of the project is experimentation in all its forms and numerous international artists and scientist will do curious exhibitions and experiments. To name just a few, a project organised by Mexican artist Pedro Ryes, ‘Ideas for Iraq’, focuses on the state of the war in Iraq where participants will be able to illustrate their strategies towards possible solutions for the war. Scientist and hydrogen expert, Þorsteinn Ingi Sigfússon, will do the performance ‘The Taming of the Proton’ while artist Marina Abramovic will take the audience on a soul exploration journey in an experiment with German psychosexual therapist Dr. Ruth and Hans Ulrich Obrist. The list also includes electronic musician and record producer Brian Eno, who will presents sound installations, Hungarian artist Attila Csörgo and Luc Steels, a professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Brussels.

Nature as a Phenomenon
Interesting exhibitions will also open at Reykjavík Art Museum’s second largest venue, Kjarvalsstaðir, during the Art Festival. In the collaborative exhibition ‘Dreams of the Sublime and Nowhere’, surator Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir brings together a group of Icelandic artists of different backgrounds and generations (Ragnar Kjartansson, Icelandic Love Corporation, Ólafur Elíasson and Spessi, among others) to explore the place of the “sublime” in Icelandic visual arts. Different ideas of nature and natural phenomena in photographic and video art will be presented. The exhibition features early twentieth-century black-and-white landscape photographs to multi-media installations with the aim to “showcases diverse visions and interpretations of the “sublime” and “nowhere”, through classical, melancholic, ironic, or radically ecological images”.

As an opposition to Sigurjónsdóttir’s exhibition, American landscape architect and visual artist Martha Schwarts will display an aluminium-installation in the courtyard of Kjarvalsstaðir. Her installation is titled ‘I Hate Nature’ and “alludes both to the artist’s experience of nature as explored in the exhibition Dreams of the Sublime and Nowhere and to the debate over environmental protection versus exploitation”

And there is more. The North Gallery of Kjarvalsstaðir, will see an exhibition for the whole family, related to the nature theme of the aforementioned exhibitions. Entitled ‘Where Am I?’ children and adults will be able to contemplate their planet, their country, and the landmarks of their environment through various games and puzzles.

All these exhibitions will stay open through the summer and entrance is always free. For more info visit

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