From Iceland — Grapevine Picks: Bathing Culture and Greed

Grapevine Picks: Bathing Culture and Greed

Published January 21, 2022

Grapevine Picks: Bathing Culture and Greed
Photo by
Mona Lea

Measures to counter the pandemic—details of which are available here—were tightened recently, suspending large sectors of Reykjavík’s cultural life. Hardest hit were live music events, with most bars closed for at least a couple of weeks until the measures are reviewed.

However galleries and exhibitions, while still subject to restrictions, are not as badly affected due to the nature of their operations. So get out over the next seven days—safely, of course—and take this opportunity get your snout in the art trough. Here are two places to start…

Bathing Culture

  • From January 22nd until September 25th
  • Museum Of Design & Applied Art
  • More information here

Photo by Mona Lea

Public baths occupy a unique position in the Icelandic way of life. In some cultures the local swimming pool is the preserve of noisy kids letting off steam, and determined swimmers doggedly completing lengths. In contrast, the sundlaug in an Icelandic community serves much the same purpose as the pub in England or the cafe in France: neighbours meet in a shared space to relax, catch up and share news.

While the original function of Icelandic public baths was more focused on physical fitness and education, their purpose is now often more focused on a wider sense of wellbeing and community. Some even lean towards a spa-like experience.

The development of Icelandic bathing culture is an interesting exercise in community design, with architects, pool employees, civic figures and bathers all contributing to the story told by this exhibit. JP


  • Until January 31st
  • Gallery Underpass
  • More information here

Photo by Einar Garibaldi Eiriksson

Matador is a game of real estate created by artist Einar Garibaldi Eiriksson, and resembles the pastime known internationally as Monopoly. In both games, contestants buy land with unreal money, then use more unreal money to build houses and hotels on it. The object is to screw other people over when an unlucky roll of the dice lands them somewhere that they didn’t choose to be. Sound familiar? JP

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