From Iceland — A Basket Full of Music

A Basket Full of Music

Published July 4, 2023

A Basket Full of Music
Rex Beckett
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The Nordic House’s PIKKNIKK concert series highlights diversity

On a lazy Sunday summer afternoon, there are few things as pleasant as a stroll in a garden, laying out a blanket with flourish and having a picnic. The Icelandic weather doesn’t tend to allow for such experiences, but the Nordic House’s PIKKNIKK concert series is here to give you the same feeling, albeit with music and performance art instead of sandwiches and strawberries.

Back for its third year, the series ramped back up at the end of June and will happen every Sunday afternoon until the end of July. With the concerts taking place in the Nordic House’s greenhouse, located right in front of it in the wilds of Vatnsmýri, guests can watch the shows from outside the glass and enjoy the fresh air.

“The idea this year was just to be open and to try to give as much space to international artists based in Iceland, as well as Icelandic artists,” says series curator José Luis Anderson, describing their vision for this year’s lineup. “We really wanted to be balanced when it comes to gender, welcoming all genders and all international communities.”

José, a Mexican-born musician and composer who goes by the artist name Andervel, relocated to Iceland five years ago to pursue a Masters degree in music at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. Subsequently — having been trapped here by the pandemic — they went into the new media composition program at the same institution and recently graduated. 

José performed at the PIKKNIKK series in 2022 and got involved with working with the Nordic House through connecting with director Sabina Westerholm and curator Elham Fakouri. They were invited to be part of various projects, including a lullaby workshop for children, with kids in attendance hailing from 13 different countries. This emphasis on diversity naturally carried over into José’s curation of the summer concerts.

“It’s very diverse, not only in nationalities and embracing all genders, but also when it comes to musical acts,” says José. “Almost all the artists are challenging the idea of performance. The PIKKNIKK series is a mostly musical event, but I tried to also give space to the performative aspect to perhaps go out a little bit of the traditional setting of the concert. There are a couple of acts in this series that are more of a concert-installation.”

The first PIKKNIKK concert took place on June 25 with Faroese-born synthpop artists SAKARIS kicking things off. Upcoming acts include Danish-born Sara Flindt, who recently released a stunningly produced art-pop EP; Canadian-Icelandic artist A. Rawlings along with German poet/musician Rike Scheffler, who together will perform an ecologically-engaged poetry performance; experimental-electronic iconoclasts MC MYASNOI, who hail from Russia and Iceland and do some mind-blowingly weird stuff; and the ultra-cool pairing of uber-producer Kurt Uenala (google his credits, trust us) and PC Music-signed artist and music researcher Jack Armitage.

“I’m really excited,” José gushes about the lineup they’ve built. “I’m just really happy that all these people came together and had the interest to collaborate in this and also the Nordic House. They just opened their doors and basically they just told me to do what I want.”

This freedom of the program will truly make each PIKKNIKK a unique event that diverges from the norm of what we know concerts to be, turning a lazy Sunday snack into a feast of art. Bring your own wild and diversely-packed picnic basket.

 

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