From Iceland — Harpa: The Wind Sings Through Art With New Sculpture

Harpa: The Wind Sings Through Art With New Sculpture

Published May 9, 2022

Alice Poggio
Photo by
Joana Fontinha

A new abstract sculpture made in celebration of Harpa’s 10th anniversary was introduced to the public in front of the concert hall this past weekend.

Prime minister Katrín Jacobsdóttir unveiled Elín Hansdóttir’s artwork on Saturday. Vísir reports that the work was selected in a competition for art in a public space at Harpa in 2008. It is a gift from the Icelandic state and the City of Reykjavík on the occasion of Harpa’s 10th anniversary in October last year. Elín Hansdóttir graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2003 and completed her MA in Berlin in 2006. Vísir reports:

Himinglæva’, ‘Celestial’ in English, is a stainless steel sculpture designed to create sound as the wind passes through it. The force of the wind dictates the sounds that it will generate.

The name of the work is taken from Old Norse, and used to mean the ‘heaven-shining one’, or the ‘transparent wave’. Himinglæva was one of the nine daughters of the sea goddess Rán and the sea god Ægis, each one named to represent a different characteristic ocean wave.

In Norse mythology, sailors who sensed the force of the wind and the waves around them, could see the mythical image of Heaven, this is referred to as Himinglæva, which can also be translated as “that through which one can see the heavens”. The sculpture refers to this myth, and is designed to guide the viewer to pay attention to the forces of nature which surround us, especially those which you cannot see. Although, anyone who has lived in Iceland long enough knows that the wind has no trouble making itself known and felt.

The sculptural instrument allows the forces of nature to “play” it,  encouraging the audience to listen to their environment, in an effort to connect people to nature.

The precise position of the work is based on it being a modest sound source and not disturbing to its surroundings.

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