Leipzig is an unlikely place for an Icelandic art festival, but following three successful years in Iceland, Festisvall is making its second home in Germany.
After moving to Leipzig with his girlfriend this year, Árni Már Erlingsson, director of the festival, decided to take Festisvall with him. An initial teaser exhibition that he put on proved popular with locals who showed enough interest in the Icelandic art scene to encourage him to test the waters with an international audience.
Festisvall started in the summer of 2010 in Reykjavík when two art students, Árni Már Erlingsson and Sigurður Atli Sigurðsson, got together and collaborated to make a new festival which would provide a platform for young grassroots artists. The name of the festival is a play on the word festival and the Icelandic word ‘listasvall’ (“art party”). It first took place at various locations around Reykjavík including Árni’s flat, Bíó Paradís, Hjartagarðurinn (Heart Park) and Artíma Gallery and has since been a part of Cultural Night every summer.
Compared to the other bigger art festivals in Iceland, such as the Reykjavík Arts Festival, Festisvall is aimed towards a younger demographic, which Árni found in Leipzig as well. “The art scene is younger and the population doesn’t consist only of artists and designers, like in a city such as Berlin,” Árni explains, noting that the rent in the city and access to space is much more manageable.
Now that the festival has expanded beyond Iceland, Árni is collaborating with an international arts scene and incorporating art and artists from Germany, France, Sweden and China. If all goes well, he wants to bring Festisvall to other cities in and outside of Iceland as well, possibly taking it to Seyðisfjörður and Ísafjörður in Iceland and Berlin and Hamburg in Germany, next.
Festisvall will take place on November 20 and 22 in five different venues in Leipzig, Germany. There will be three exhibitions and concerts, 22 visual artists and five musicians.