Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nordens U-land? 
- Isländsk konst i kristid by craniv boyd

Nordens U-land? 
- Isländsk konst i kristid Erla S. Haraldsdóttir, The Icelandic Love Corporation, Ragnar Kjartansson, Hildur Margarétardóttir, Bjargey Ólafsdóttir, Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson, Rúrí, Magnús Sigurdarson, Hreinn J. Stephensen, Pétur Thomsen curated by Jonatan Habib Engqvist at Färgfabriken Norr Östersund


There is a big wooden red structure on a hill in the north of Sweden. The military has long since moved on from here leaving their training halls vacant in this hamlet near the ski resort Åre. Inhabitants of Östersund needed to find something to do with the buildings the army left behind. A European Union funded temporary Konsthall was the solution that created "Färgfabriken Norr".


This is the last exhibition that will take place in the space called Färgfabriken Norr, the exhibition hall will continue depending on external funding factors under another aegis (yet to be determined) the euro funded project turns its focus to a Scandinavian country that has yet to join the EU, Iceland. A freshly independent nation and a newly bankrupt nation in an exhibition titled, "Nordic 3rd World? Icelandic Art in times of crisis" curated by Swedish curator, Jonathan Habib Engqvist, who lived in Iceland for some years and is fluent in Icelandic.


It is a group exhibition with 12 participating Icelandic artists that calls into question recurrent themes found in contemporary Icelandic art. Ideas of pure nature, environmental change, post colonial inferiority complexes, corrupt politics and greed that lead to the crash in Iceland and of course the brand of paganism and superstition the Icelanders are so well known for the belief in trolls and gnomes.


The work of artists Hreinn J. Stephensen, and Magnus Sigurdarson, recreate natural Icelandic phenomena via installation art. Hreinn´s black box sculpture has a shallow pool of black liquid at it´s center. A sound recording of a television interview with former Icelandic prime minister Gier Haarde on BBC has been manipulated so that humans can not hear what he is saying rather they feel it when close enough to the black box, the sound waves shake the black liquid on the top surface making an eruption like a bonsai version of a volcano or geyser. "Storm" by Magnus takes its departure point from landscape painting. It is two tons of salt blown by two industrial strength fans in a cubic vitrine. Any one who has lived through a winter in Iceland immediately recognizes this kind of weather.


Erla S. Haraldsdottir touches on environmental change and global warming in her animation Reynisdrangar where a palm tree sprouts up on a beach near Vik in southern Iceland and a tropical pelican flys by. An oil painting of a wave accompanies this HD video emphasizing that the beautiful landscape does pose a real threat to mankind.


A Danish colonizer whips a terrorized Icelandic peasant into submission shouting slurs like "satans Icelander" and "devil" this video work where Ragnar Kjartanson poses as the oppressed Icelander deals with the history of power and oppression between Denmark and Iceland. Iceland gained its independence from the Danish crown in 1944.


Photographic documentation of the construction of the controversial aluminum plant Kárahnjúkavirkjun are what Petur Thomsen contributes to the group exhibition. His photographs were taken from a place that was under strict press blackout, many could not document or report on this, the result of a corrupt form of censorship.


Paganism crops up in the works of Hildur Margarétardóttir and Icelandic Love Corporation. Hildur made a paper machee replica of a severed horse head, a modern version of an old Viking curse. She used it in the recent pot and pan revolution that took place in the wake of the bankruptcy in Iceland. Icelandic love Corporation performed a synthesis of their previous performances from the time of the upswing in the economy in Iceland. It is a ritual that involves them building a structure up and tearing it down, making paper money and burning it right away in a trash can fire, shaking hands with the devil and drinking a toast.


Art in times of crisis, is a lively exhibition that presents several positions in the Icelandic art community. the former military training hall of Färgfabriken Norr is able to house these large works from a small country exceptionally well. by craniv boyd ©

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.