A Huge, Awesome Experiment: Listastofan Closes Art

A Huge, Awesome Experiment: Listastofan Closes

Published September 13, 2019

A Huge, Awesome Experiment: Listastofan Closes
Phil Uwe Widiger
Photo by
Julie Rowland

Listastofan’s final exhibition WE RUINED EVERYTHING opens September 6th. The goodbye party will be held at Iðnó on September 19th.

“If there is one thing I could say about Listastofan, it would be that it was one huge, awesome experiment,” says Martyna Daniel of the four years in which the artist-run gallery has gone from a simple art studio to a vibrant art space with regular exhibitions, workshops, live drawings, readings and concerts.

Once upon a time in Reykjavik
“I almost feel everything happened by accident,” Martyna laughs. Initially, the space was thought as a simple art studio. But life had different plans. “We were overwhelmed with requests for sort of everything,” says Martyna. “I think a reason why it was so easy to find people to rent desks with us was because there was no direct competition to a place like this then. It sort of escalated from there.”

Killing the baby
With Listastofan becoming a full success, the decision to close was not made overnight. “Things happened organically,” explains Martyna. “The co-directors have also moved on to other projects. In a few days I’m turning 30 and I am a bit sensitive to symbolic dates. What do I want to do in my thirties? The answer is: not Listastofan.”

“The experimental phase is over. It works and we’ve proven that. Now we kill our baby.”

Instead, Martyna wants to focus on filmmaking, which she has studied and which is what brought her to Iceland initially. And she wants to go back to experimenting. “That’s one of the reasons why I feel like it’s time to close Listastofan — the experimental phase is over. It works and we’ve proven that. Now we kill our baby.”

Be young and shut up
From the very beginning, Listastofan had its own slogan—“Be Young and Shut Up”—advertising the arrogant attitude of adolescence. And its farewell exhibition, WE RUINED EVERYTHING, is the epitome of this. “It’s like a loud teenage scream for attention,” Martyna laughs. “It’s pretty much the essence of Listastofan.”


The exhibition features both Icelandic and foreign artists, another of Listastofan’s trademarks, and is a humorous take on the theme of destruction. “When I started telling people that we were going to close there was a lot of whining, a lot of sadness,” remembers the co-founder. “The last exhibition had to make fun of all these interactions. Well, yeah, I ruined everything, sorry!”

Going out with a bang
Listastofan will officially close with a goodbye party at Iðnó, featuring music and art, speeches, and some other surprises. “There will be a symbolic pack down of our exhibition and then we’ll physically move everybody to Iðnó and have a massive party there,” Martyna explains. “Whether it’s in Listastofan, Iðnó or new spaces opening all over town, it really doesn’t matter as long as you can show what you are doing and work together. I don’t really feel like we are closing anything.”

In fact, a project group for Listastofan’s successor has already been founded. The Grapevine reached out for an exclusive statement: “The space will be taken over following the worker cooperative model, a novelty in Iceland, and will continue to offer desks for artists to rent upstairs. What used to be the exhibition area will go through some renovations and will gradually be open for events and workshops, with the long-term goal of being turned into a café.”

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