60 Years Since Start of Surtsey Eruption

Surtsey island

Today marks exactly 60 years since the start of the eruption that formed Surtsey island, off Iceland’s south coast. The island, which has been closed to the public since its formation, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The opening of a photographic exhibition to mark the anniversary has been delayed as Iceland awaits a potential eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula, where one town has been evacuated.

The Environment Agency had planned to open a photographic exhibition on Surtsey in the Westman Islands today, November 14, but a notice from the agency says the opening will be delayed. “In light of the serious situation that has emerged, we don’t consider it appropriate to celebrate this milestone at this moment,” the notice reads.

While the exhibit’s opening party has been delayed, the photo exhibition itself remains open to visitors. It features the work of Iceland Review’s principal photographer Golli, who received rare permission to accompany a scientific expedition to Surtsey this past summer. His article and photos from the expedition, Island in the Making, are available to subscribers on the Iceland Review website.

Deep North Episode 24: Velvet Terrorism

pussy riot in iceland

Visiting the exhibition Velvet Terrorism: Pussy Riot’s Russia, you enter a dark room. You are pleasantly greeted by a man sitting at a fold-up table spread with pamphlets and copies of Maria Alyokhina’s 2017 prison memoir, Riot Days. To your right: a video of a woman in a baggy, black dress fills one wall, blonde hair curling messily out from beneath a red balaclava. Standing above a portrait of President Vladimir Putin, she carefully lifts her dress and pisses all over him.

This is the first-ever museum exhibition of Pussy Riot’s work, and it’s being held at Reykjavík’s Marshall House. Maria Alyokhina has been through much to be here. When, on February 24, 2022 President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a “special military operation” in Ukraine, Maria, a founding member of Pussy Riot, watched the announcement from a detention centre on the outskirts of Moscow. Less than a year later, she and fellow members of the feminist punk band and activist group have created a visual omnibus of their political actions, a comprehensive critique of Putin’s Russia, in Reykjavík.

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Sail from Sweden to Iceland to Mark 250th Anniversary of Scientific Expedition

Solander 250 Embassy of Sweden in Reykjavík

The year 2022 marks 250 years since the Swedish botanist Daniel Solander made a scientific expedition to Iceland. To commemorate the expedition, the Embassy of Sweden has collaborated with Icelandic partners to organise a sailing trip, an art exhibition, workshops, nature walks, and other projects that will be held at over 30 locations across Iceland over the next one and a half years.

“Together Iceland and Sweden continue a dialogue on history, biology, geology, anthropology and culture which has spanned over many centuries. The project deals with our common past, present and future,” Sweden’s Ambassador to Iceland Pär Ahlberger told Iceland Review. “I am very grateful to the Government of Iceland and our more than 30 Icelandic partners for the very generous support to this, the most comprehensive Swedish – Icelandic project ever.”

Daniel Solander (1733-1782) was a Swedish naturalist who studied under celebrated professor of botany Carl Linnaeus. He travelled as far as Australia and New Zealand for scientific expeditions, where he helped make and describe collections of plants from various regions.

Solander visited Iceland in 1772. A travelogue from the expedition, Letters on Iceland, first published in 1777, is available in full on the Icelandic National Library website.

Icelandic artists interpret Solander’s expedition

One of the cornerstones of the commemorative project is the art exhibition Solander 250: Bréf frá Íslandi (e. Solander 250: Letters from Iceland), which features the work of ten Icelandic artists who contribute with their perspectives of Daniel Solander’s expedition to Iceland. The exhibition opens in Hafnarborg gallery in the town of Hafnarfjörður on August 27, but will travel to nine other locations in Iceland over the coming 18 months.

The exhibition Paradise Lost – Daniel Solander’s Legacy, first exhibited in New Zealand and Australia in 2019-2021 and focusing on the first encounter between Sweden and the Pacific Region, will be shown across Iceland alongside Bréf frá Íslandi.

Other events that will be part of the commemorative project include musical performances and educational events.

Erró: Remembrances of a Titan

Erró Icelandic visual artist

“Uuh!?”  Urinary associations Suspended on a wall in the Reykjavík Art Museum, there’s a cardboard plaque displaying, among other things, the exposed penis of one of Iceland’s best-known visual artists. A major figure of the narrative-figuration movement in the 1960s, Erró hosted a “happening” at the American Centre in Paris in 1963, in which he satirised US […]

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Icelandic Artist Packs Up Exhibition in Russia

Ragnar Kjartansson

Contemporary Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson has put a stop to his exhibition Santa Barbara that was taking place in the newly-opened GEC-2 contemporary art museum in Moscow, Russia, RÚV reports. Kjartan says there was no question that packing up the exhibition was the right thing to do after Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday. Ragnar is an internationally renowned artist, having exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Tate Modern, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, among other places.

“It’s not possible to exhibit this piece when this horror has begun,” Ragnar stated. “The piece is about the beginning of the Russia that came to be after the Soviet Union. And that Russia ended [last Thursday]. Now it’s just become a full-blown fascist state.”

Ragnar’s piece Santa Barbara is named after the US soap opera that started being broadcast in Russia one week after the fall of the Soviet Union. The exhibition recreates the series one episode at a time under the direction of Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir. A team of crew and actors had recreated one episode from the show each day since the beginning of December, until the decision to stop was made last week. The exhibition was originally supposed to run for an additional two weeks.

Read More: Staging Reality

Ragnar says Russian artists have told him of being censored or imprisoned due to their art. “It’s just been an incredible experience to make art in this situation, where it’s almost like being in a thriller,” Ragnar stated. “You meet all kinds of people that have been put in prison, experienced bomb threats, censorship and I don’t know what else.”

A New York Times article from December describes Russian artist Maria V. Alyokhina’s criticism of the GEC-2 grand opening as “hosting a feast during a plague,” a reference to a play by Alexander Pushkin. “It’s really cool what they are doing, I really like it. It’s just, we have reality also, not only ‘Santa Barbara,’” Alyokhina said, implying the arts centre was ignoring Russia’s political reality. Ragnar is also quoted in the article as saying: “Many things can be criticized in this country, but we cannot look away from the fact that the Russian culture is completely awesome.”

Skyr Exhibition Opens in Selfoss

The history of skyr production and consumption is the subject of a new exhibition that was just opened in Selfoss, South Iceland. Called Skyrland, the exhibition tells visitors the story behind Iceland’s characteristic dairy product, from the first settlers to the 21st century. The exhibition is located in Selfoss’ newly built city centre in the same building as a food hall.

At Skyrland “You’ll discover how 40 generations of women passed their skyr-making knowledge down, from mother to daughter, and how the story moved from isolated turf-roofed farms, to the world,” the exhibition’s website states. The exhibition features stops for all senses, including a “story wall,” an immersive scent exhibit, and even a tasting session for those who want to try the delicacy.

Skyr is a high-protein, low-fat, cultured dairy product. It is technically a cheese but it is consumed like a yogurt. Skyr has a sour flavour and is produced and sold commercially with added flavouring like blueberry or vanilla. It has been a staple of the Icelandic diet for centuries and is even mentioned in a number of Medieval sagas. Cultural historian Hallgerður Gísladóttir has suggested that skyr was produced across Scandinavia at the time Iceland was settled, but the tradition was lost elsewhere after that period.

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Exhibition to Be Opened Next Year

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

According to a letter of intent signed at the University of Iceland yesterday, an exhibition on the presidency of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir will be opened next year at Loftskeytastöðin. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was the first woman to be democratically elected head of state, in office from 1980 to 1996.

Exhibition to be housed at the “old radio station”

At a commemorative ceremony yesterday, marking the University of Iceland’s 110th anniversary, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister of Transport and Local Government Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, and President of the University of Iceland Jón Atli Benediktsson signed a joint letter of intent to open an exhibition on the presidency of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir next year.

According to the agreement, the government will aid in preparatory efforts for the exhibition, which will be housed at Loftskeytastöðin – Iceland’s first radio station, inaugurated on June 17, 1918. Loftskeytastöðin, which is located next to Veröld – the House of Vigdís, will also accommodate research and academic facilities. The agreement stipulates that the exhibition receive an annual subsidy from the treasury. The University of Iceland will manage the exhibition and related scholarly activities, both of which will be integrated within the operations of Veröld. The signees hope to inaugurate the exhibition next year.

“A symbol of unity,” PM on Vigdís

“Vigdís’ influence on Icelandic society, especially on those who grew up during her presidency, can hardly be overstated: waking up, one morning in June of 1980, as the first nation in history to have democratically elected a woman as head of state. In an incredibly brief time, Vigdís managed to unite the nation. The prevailing attitude at the time was that a president should be a symbol of unity, and in Vigdís the nation quickly found such a symbol,” PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated in a speech during the ceremony.

Having wished Icelanders happy National Day, and congratulated the University on its anniversary, Vigdís announced that she would be donating various keepsakes from her presidency to the University of Iceland, including letters, gifts from foreign heads of states, and clothing. These items will serve as the basis for the exhibition at Loftskeytastöðin.

A former Müller-ist

As noted in an interview with Iceland Review in 2019, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir always considered herself “one of the people.” Even after being elected president, Vigdís continued visiting the public pool in West Reykjavík, where she would join fellow swimmers in a regimen of quaint exercises invented by the former Danish gymnastics educator J. P. Müller. Click here for an excerpt to the article.

Listastofan to Close in September

The Listastofan arts space and collective will be closing its doors as of September. Per a press release from the venue, it will celebrate its four years in operation with one final exhibition, entitled WE RUINED EVERYTHING.

Listastofan was founded by immigrants Martyna Daniel and Emma Sanderson in September 2015 and during its four-year tenure has hosted 63 visual art exhibitions, as well as numerous life drawing sessions, readings, workshops, ceramics classes, artists talks, concerts, performances, and school group visits. Listastofan has also provided studio space to a community of 15 artists and a number of short-term international residents.

“It all started because we wanted to give a platform to new and emerging artists,” Martyna stated in an interview with Iceland Review, explaining that the space specifically aimed to highlight artists that did not have an existing platform or were otherwise underrepresented in Iceland. “We thought it would be a small-scale project, that we would have our desks there and just organise life drawing sessions and workshops from time to time. It soon became bigger and more public than we anticipated. We were contacted by many artists who also wanted to be a part of it and so we grew. We gave up our desks as in-house artists and focused all of our energy into running the space. Now cut to four years later and I feel like the work has been great, but it is time to hop onto a new cloud. Nothing really closes when you think about it, walls will be walls, but all that matters is that people meet, create and show what they do, no matter where it is. Many artists met through Listastofan and they will keep working together so I see it as a simple location closing, all the rest is alive.”

“It feels like it is the right time to close,” she concluded,“[to] encapsulate what has been done and allow for new projects to emerge. Listastofan was a great adventure for me but many more projects await.”

Curated by by Martyna Daniel and Claire Paugam, WE RUINED EVERYTHING is, Martyna says, “a fun take on this closing” and will feature work by eight Iceland-based artists that “all have a form of absurd and humorous take on the theme of destruction.”

WE RUINED EVERYTHING will feature the following work:

Sean Patrick O’Brien – Tveikjari (Ég kem að vörmu spori), artwork created for WE RUINED EVERYTHING, mixed media installation and performance.

Serge Comte – Pizza Tonton / Zéroticône, series of eight beaded pizzas and series of Facebook screenshots

Drengurinn fengurinn – Hvenær fær maður að vera í friði?, artwork created for WE RUINED EVERYTHING, mixed media installation including a video and a mural painting

Logi Leó Gunnarsson – Cut-Off Blade Looper, installation

Claire Paugam  – Insects, photo collage

Martyna Daniel  – Fix Me, My Mamma Broke Me, Acrylic paint on canvas, 90×65

Anne Rombach – Work Of Fiction, video piece

Þröstur Valgarðsson   – So fucking Symbolic it hurts, artwork created for WE RUINED EVERYTHING, performance

The exhibition at Listastofan will open on Friday, September 6 at 5 pm. A “massive goodbye party” will be held at IÐNO at the end of the exhibition on September 19. Martyna says the party will include “a series of concerts, artwork, speeches and other surprises” and is free and open to all. More information on Facebook, here.