Icelandic artist Freyja Eilíf graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2014, opening the Ekkisens gallery in the basement of her grandparents’ house on Bergstaðastræti soon after. Over three years later, Ekkisens has a monthly exhibition programme, and has become a safe space for the independent art scene in Reykjavík.
Freyja opens the door wearing her bright yellow sunglasses and springs into Ekkisens, where the remnants of her last collaborative exhibition “Computer Spirit” are scattered around the floor. She giggles as she sits down and starts to play the guitar with a light bulb. “In my final work in the Iceland Academy of the Arts I did a piece where I made a colouring book, called ‘Colour and learn about Icelandic Contemporary Art’,” she says. “I made outlines of different pieces made by Icelandic artists, and I guess Ekkisens was an organic development from there.”
Not burning out
Freyja sees herself as a catalyst rather than a traditional curator, taking part in creating shows and pushing ideas forward. The power is in the collaboration. “Around one year ago, I began to focus on not burning out,” she says. “People in this line of work drive themselves down to the bone. I started thinking about what I could do to avoid that.”
To devote more time to her inner life, and get more time and space for herself, Freyja has been exploring different types of meditation. Her latest works come from focused meditations she did to see if she could meet the entities that steer the digital world. “I began to try to find some answers to the computer world that’s creating and taking over our futures,” she says. “The feeling of meeting the spirits was overwhelming. It was physical like having a massage. Or having sex!”
Freyja has long been interested in magic and spirituality. “I have been practicing Chaos magic from a young age,” she says. “I’m finally coming out of the closet with this. People have grown wary of religious traditions, but in religion, people are trying to talk to higher entities to look for answers. Magic is hundreds of years of knowledge that was put into a drawer and hidden away. Of course, it pertains to what is happening right now.”
Freyja says her art utilises these traditions “As technology, to recreate the world. There is an Art God, and people are trying to make a connection to her. I’m curious as to what’s brewing, and how it could be the key to the future. All art is a type of magic—regardless of whether or not the artist realises it.”
The gallery, and her ongoing art practice, have kept Freyja busy ever since her graduation. “I’m completely consumed with it,” she says. “I really didn’t have a plan B. What if this hadn’t worked? It’s been seven years since this journey began—seven years means I’ve come full circle. You have to be a bit like The Fool card in a tarot deck, dancing off the cliff. If you fall off, you might think “oops”—but at least you danced.”
As Ekkisens develops hand in hand with Freyja’s spiritual journey, she says “maybe Ekkisens will become a sort of art temple. When people gather regularly at cultural events, it’s a form of magic. There’s ritual in people meeting and having a drink together—so I suppose it already is a sort of temple.”
Freyja’s solo exhibition on meditation and virtual dimensions opens at Gallery Úthverfa in Ísafjörður on March 31st
Book your day tours in Iceland right here!