From Iceland — We Want You

We Want You

Published June 11, 2009

We Want You

Diligent readers of the Reykjavik Grapevine, as well as Reykjavík art enthusiasts, must have witnessed the get-up-and-go attitude at the Lost Horse Gallery over the last two years. Its operator, Alex Zaklynsky, has been hard-hitting in establishing lively collaborations as well as hosting unorthodox exhibitions, installments, etc. But what is it that’s so charming about these old stables morphed into art haven?
Alex sums up last two year’s experience in these words: “We’ve basically been having a lots of fun; throwing shows and giving away free alcohol. Most of the stuff we’ve done has been really interesting, but we’ve collaborated with a lot of different artists and we’ve gotten to know a bunch of fascinating people”.
When you walk into the gallery, you notice right away that the feel isn’t what you’d expect from most white wine serving galleries. You’d rather expect fellow artists clinging their moonshine glasses together and cheering in a blunt manner, rather than the first lady chit-chatting about her diamonds while gently polishing off her Dom Perignon. “Maybe we’re more engaging in cultural traditions, given the fact it’s situated in an ancient horse stable and we’re kind of glorifying that aspect of the phenomenon,” Alex explains as he tries to put his finger on what it is exactly what’s sets his gallery apart from other similar Reykjavík establishments, “we’re diving into a historic culture and maybe making more meaning of things. It’s more than just a dull exhibition space, more rough and meaningful. Something like that.”
Besides the uniqueness in terms of atmosphere there’s one fact that can’t be overlooked and is maybe a crucial factor in the big picture: the truancy of money. But then again, if people were living up to the 50 Cent maxim “Get rich or die trying” at The Lost Horse, would it make any difference? “Money really wouldn’t change the atmosphere at all in my opinion,” explains Alex and then elaborates, “we wouldn’t be doing any yuppie stuff, but people might be more constructive with a little financial backup.”
The Financial Crisis:
The Lost Horse’s Catcher in the Rye

As all things that have a beginning, The Lost Horse also has an ending, but its ending was probably more anticipated than in most cases: the house was due for demolition two years after opening, or right about now. When I asked the operator whether this was in fact still the plan he seemed a bit amazed that time had passed so quickly, but got his head straight in a moment and explained the current situation: “It’s possibly gonna be ripped down two years from now, but because of the whole financial situation things aren’t exactly in motion. So you might even say we’ve benefited a bit from the crisis.”
Giving Alex’s stature as a patron of some sort, it seemed wise to ask him about how the current financial crunch has influenced the local art scene. “The scene in whole hasn’t lost its edge, on the contrary. People have maybe become more intrusive and the galaxy of available spaces have given people a lot of new opportunities.” The impact on society, though, hasn’t only been positive, because the cash flow has definitely decreased: “In terms of art buying – we’ve definitely suffered,” Alex explains.
Foolsgold and A.S.E.A Recruitment
This June 17, Lost Horse will premier its next exhibition, which is quite an interesting one. Bearing the name “Foolsgold,” you might suspect that it refers to the blown up skeleton economy prevailing in Iceland in the pre-crisis era, but it’s actually a replica of a similar exhibit shown in New York this March, that ran for some time with substantial success. “The model for the exhibition is the preservation of nature, endangered species and so forth,” Alex explains, but the exhibition is a collaboration between various artists and the organization A.S.E.A (Artists Supporting Environmental Awareness).
In these artists’ mind, visual art is a great medium to convey environmental ideals and arouse awareness: “People definitely look at art, and we’re using a different method to address these environmental issues. We let the visual images speak for us. We’re also defying the bureaucratic aspects of environmental campaigns in a way, where 90% of the funding goes into operational costs.” Here in Iceland the main issue that the A.S.E.A. is tackling is the whaling massacre and other sea-related affairs, but they make it clear that although that’s the current focus point, in the midst of the present political chaos, those issues aren’t exclusive at all.
Before the actual opening, they will be hosting a sort-of open office in the next couple of weeks, where artists can come and contribute if they like, but the A.S.E.A. is always recruiting artists out there who have similar ideals and want to be a part of it. Power always lies in numbers, especially in regards to funding. “We’re hoping to throw many events as well as doing interesting collaboration projects in the future – and we encourage everybody to pop by.”

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