From Iceland — The Artists Have Come Home to Roost

The Artists Have Come Home to Roost

Published July 14, 2008

A 10-year reunion of three artists at Kling & Bang Gallery

The Artists Have Come Home to Roost
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A 10-year reunion of three artists at Kling & Bang Gallery

On July 4, three visual artists will open an exhibition in Kling&Bang Gallery on Laugarvegur 23. This exhibition is in fact a reunion, for the exact combo of artists opened another installation ten years ago. I had made an appointment with one of the three artists opening their new installation at Kling&Bang gallery on a sunny afternoon and was forced to abandon my fine spot on Austurvöllur and head up to Hverfisgata. As soon as Erling Klingenberg opened up for me, and asked me if I wanted a beer with a low-keyed grin on his face, I realised I was in for a ride. The remains of the previous exhibitions were still in the main hall and some enthusiastic tourists were making weird hisses and gasps so we moved over to a more obscure area of the gallery, where we could be to ourselves. When he had lit up the first of many cigarettes that afternoon I decided just to go for it and asked him to depict the concept of the 10-years-ago installation for me and describe how it all began.

“Me and Ásmundur and Magnús had all met while we were studying Visual Arts at the establishment, which the present name is the Visual Arts Department of the Icelandic Academy of Arts, but whilst we studied there it was simply called the Icelandic School of Embroidery and Painting. After we all finalised our studies we headed to North America, both of them to the United States and myself to Canada, and that’s the reason for the date of the opening, July 4, the date itself kind of links us all together. The Museum of Modern Arts fitted perfectly to our longings and so it was chosen as our premises. We had built up unorthodox ideals in our work, which really differentiated us from other Icelandic artists; you could say we are stuck in a gap between the old heroes and the new krútt-generation.  Since then a lot of time has passed and our emphases have probably changed a lot.”

It was apparent that he wasn’t too happy being categorised with neither of these generations that he mentioned, so I decided to get to the bottom of it all.

And how do you exactly classify your generation?
Well, to begin with we are the last offspring of the Cold War, but the difference between us and other Cold War progenies lies in the fact that we experienced the conclusion of it, which of course moulded our ideas a lot. We were young when there wasn’t any TV on Thursdays, but we were also developing our style when it was broadcasted 24/7. We didn’t exactly study in the old school establishment where the old sharks learned how to paint landscape, but we didn’t either study in the new and fancy Icelandic Academy of Arts. We seem to bridge a lot of gaps. We’re kind of a bridge between the two artist stereotypical generations known in Iceland.

But one must wonder what has happened in these ten years, you have probably been up to a whole galaxy of different things. So tell us, what have you been up to?
Woof, that’s a big one. My associates have spent most of their time overseas but I for one have been involved in several adventures e.g. the founding and operating of both this gallery, Kling&Bang, and also I took part in the Klink&Bank phenomenon.

It’s hard to miss that your name, Klingenberg, is drastically involved in the names of these projects, so you seem to be the top dog of ‘em all?
Well, to me the name Kling&Bang only represents two chords but of course it is undeniable that they bear quite a resemblance to my name. To my defence it wasn’t actually me who suggested this name but one of my associates, but we were in this six or seven together. It was fantastic taking part in all this excitement and when we opened Kling&Bang on Laugarvegur a new dimension kind of opened to us. Both the name and the logo are though incidental e.g. we found an old print between two of the bricks in the chimney, which had our incumbent logo on it, some ancient Danish Colony representing sign. And the name was simply chosen out of a whole bunch of smart ideas that came along.

And this July 4 when you reunite, what can we expect, what has changed?
To tell you the truth I simply do not know, has anything changed? This is our personal payoff which lets us reminisce a bit and determine in what way we have changed and what we presently represent. We decided to keep the date July 4 for these reasons but of course the artist society wasn’t nearly as anti-America ten years ago as it is today. Young artsy dandies would probably never even consider launching an exhibition on this exact date, unless in some kind of parody purposes.

And just after he released this last sentence he stubbed out his cigarette with admirable accuracy, nothing was to be left lit. So I decided treat the interview as delicately as Klingenberg had treated his cigarette and pressed stop.

Artists at the verge of something – II
Gallery Kling&Bang Laugarvegur 23
Opening July 4 at 5PM
Exhibition dates: 04.07.08- 10.08.08

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