It would be easy to envision Reykjavik as one of those Nordic capitals where everyone bicycles to work, and occasional cars have to wait while hundreds of cyclists pass. Or we could imagine the city in a predominantly natural landscape, only interrupted by occasional wooden houses; a place that is so small, people have the same homogenous experiences.
However, these visions of Reykjavik do not ring true to artist Haraldur Jónsson. He hopes to bring the Icelandic people outside of their comfort zones and into unknown territory.
Haraldur is the chairman of the board that organises the art exhibition ‘GONE WITH THE WIND.’ Curated by H. K. Rannversson, and situated throughout various locations along the bicycle and pedestrian paths of the 103 and 108 area codes of Reykjavik, the art installations consist of sculptures, three-dimensional objects, and even edible plants, made by twelve artists. The goal of the show is to make the viewer experience nature in an often overlooked part of Reykjavik, either by foot or bicycle.
Too many cars
The decision to make the exhibit accessible only by foot or bicycle was based on a wish to push the viewer out of his or her car and into the surrounding environment.
“There are a lot of cars in Reykjavik,” Haraldur explains. “It is almost like Los Angeles. Public transportation exists, but it’s not very effective, in a way. Maybe it is because Icelandic people are individualistic, but I notice that they don’t share cars and each household has at least one car. In contrast, the act of walking is like you’re writing or reading. The path you take defines you. It opens up possibilities. This is something you miss in a car. In a car, you are more in a room, in your own bubble.”
Experience a different area code
Haraldur believes the exhibit also brings people into a liminal space because it invites them to explore a part of Reykjavik that many people overlook.
“This is the first time that art in the public space is installed in this area of Reykjavik,” Haraldur explains. “The exhibition invites the viewer on a trip and when she or he accepts, she or he goes on an excursion that reveals a different aspect of the city.”
Haraldur emphasizes that the location of the exhibition is critical to the idea behind the display—it guides the viewer out of the idyllic, touristified downtown Reykjavik, the place where public art exhibitions are normally located, and into an area code where concrete, unsightly buildings predominate.
“In a way,” Haraldur reflects, “it is about the poetry of leading people outside of their comfort zones and inside something they don’t see every day.”
Nature in the urban environment
Many of the art installations revolve around the theme of “nature.” One of the pieces, for instance, consists of flowers. Another is mushrooms that viewers can eat. Haraldur explains that this environmental theme was also chosen to challenge the viewer’s perception of the urban space.
“Normally, in a city, you always have something to do, you go about your errands,” he states. “But then if you go on an excursion, it turns the notion of the city upside down. It’s inviting the viewer to go on a trip that is a little bit like going into the countryside. You are in the city but at the same time, you are in nature and you don’t know what to expect around the hill.”
The future of the exhibition
The ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’ exhibition is part of a larger project, entitled ‘THE WHEEL.’ Initiated by the Reykjavik Association of Sculptors, it is the first in a series of five summer exhibitions, leading up to the association’s 50th anniversary in 2022. Each exhibition will feature art installations scattered throughout the bike and walking paths of Reykjavik.
So if you are up for challenging your perceptions of Reykjavik, park your car and get on your bike before the exhibit closes on August 18th.
‘GONE WITH THE WIND’ is open until August 18th. For a map of the art installations, dotted around the 103 and 108 postcodes, go to hjolid.is.