From Iceland — Where There Is Sand, There Is A Beach Party

Where There Is Sand, There Is A Beach Party

Published January 4, 2015

And they 'Wish You Were Here'

Where There Is Sand, There Is A Beach Party
Rex Beckett
Photo by
RX Beckett

And they 'Wish You Were Here'

Today I walked onto a warm island shore. To my right I watched the gentle waves slowly roll in over each other, loudly lapping up against the lush green palm tree. In front of me lay exactly 400kg of crunchy white sand, a striped beach chair and a Tiki bar that seemed to say, “hey girl, come get yourself a pina colada.” I slipped off my shoes and dug my toes into the grains.

No, this wasn’t an all-expenses-paid-to-Cuba trip that a Montrealer like myself would usually consider this time of year. It was just a short walk from my downtown Reykjavík abode – albeit a walk that feels much longer in this witches-teet cold and ice and snow. Even mere steps from this balmy tropical paradise, it is a bleak blanket of slippery white.

This is the fruits of the labour of young artists Rakel Mjöll Leifsdóttir and Birgir Sigurjón Birgisson, who have started the year by transforming the inside of Kaffistofan gallery on Hverfisgata into a free trip to an island in Bali. With the heat cranked up high and a shoe-check at the door, ‘Wish You Were Here’ is an immersive art installation that is just the kind of thing to help a bad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Wish You Were Here 2

The two-day exhibit opened today with a lazy afternoon of the artists relaxing in lounge chairs and sipping on cocktails out of coconut shells, with video work by Rakel, music by Birgir’s alter ego Syrgir Digurlón and paintings by Christopher Thor Cleleland. What followed was an evening of new-year rituals, impromptu performances, best-friend body-shots and live music by the bands Wavy Gravy, Panos From Komodo and Godchilla. The latter wrapped up the evening by pulling the plug on the heat lamps and taking the hang-ten vibe down to beach-doom with their sexy brand of surf-sludge.

What a pleasure it was to put socks back on over sandy toes when the night came to a close. But it’s only the first day. The beach party continues tomorrow with more fun in the heat-lamp sun. Do yourself a favour and trade in this brutal winter for a day in tropical parad-Iceland.

‘Wish You Were Here’ continues on Sunday, January 4 from noon to 18:00 at Kaffistofan Nemendagallerí, Hverfisgata 44, 101 Reykjavík. Admission is free, all are welcome.

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