From Iceland — The City is Alive

The City is Alive

Published May 25, 2009

The City is Alive

Engaging exhibitions are gracing the Reykjavík galleries and museums. Coinciding with the Reykjavík Arts Festival, a few spaces have opened up new shows that stimulate the senses. And the best part, there is still more to come.
A few highlights thus far:
Hrafnkell Sigurðsson and Kristján Guðmundsson at the National Gallery of Iceland
Both artists present challenging and thought provoking work in this exhibition. One of Hrafnkell Sigurðsson’s works in the exhibition is a video installation, “7 x 7”. The piece is immersive, seductive and touches upon the divide between humanity and nature. The beguiling colour and imagery draws the viewer in immediately. The larger than body scale and use of reflective surfaces make the installation even more immersive. Most importantly, there is strong infrastructure in his work where this striking visual goes deeper beyond its surface, exposing interesting ideas about perception and culture/nature. The footage is taken at Kárahnjúkar of men in orange outfits swaying back and forth in an icy landscape. The subject matter of Kárahnjúkar demonstrates the struggle between man and nature, being that this is the location where one of the big controversial dams was built in Iceland. Similar to Sigurðsson’s other work, this juxtaposition of humanity and nature is clear in the video, and at moments the two fields are distinctively separated and thereby implying an irrelevance to one another. There are other times where the body and nature resemble each other and fuse together in a hypnotic manner alongside the non-jarring and subtle sound, allowing the familiarity to dissolve. The work is captivating on different levels, including its relevance to present day Iceland and how it relates to painting with its tactility and depth.

Within Reach at Kling and Bang Gallery
Kling and Bang Gallery has a group show with Carle Lange, Dóra Ísleifsdottir, Kristján Björn Þórðarson, Páll Einarsson, Reinert Mithassel, Tinna Lúðvíksdotir, Úlfur Eldjárn & Þorvaldur Þorsteinsson.
    Almost like a haunted house, you are led through a maze/obstacle course where at times you are walking in the dark and other times encountering an intimate moment with artwork. Throughout the exhibition, as you are manoeuvring around the dark obscure path, you are frequently separated from the “art”, where you have to see or peer at it voyeuristically through openings, holes and windows. You soon realise that the whole experience becomes the art and the interior passageways are fascinating within themselves. The artists at Kling and Bang Gallery have created another world where the installation becomes unconsciousness – nightmarish, bizarre, nostalgic and ethereal at times, and full of surprising and disorienting discoveries. It is almost like you have been transported into a David Lynch film.

Vanity Disorder at i8
Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir aka Shoplifter
Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir aka Shoplifter is showing her signature work of human and fake hair installations, bas-reliefs, drawings and photographs. One of the strongest works is on the left side of the gallery, which looks like a flag/rainbow/banner of hair freely installed on the wall. This contrasts with some of the other pieces on the walls, whose traditional frames are a bit distracting and detract from the experience with the art.

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