Stolen Statue Resurfaces On A Spaceship

The case of the stolen statue has been solved.

As reported last week, a bronze statue of Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir was stolen from its pedestal in Laugarbrekka, on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Titled “The First White Mother in America,” the stolen statue depicted Guðríður and her son and was cast from a sculpture that renowned Icelandic sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson created for the 1940 World’s Fair in New York.

Guðríður and her son reappeared Saturday in a spaceship outside the Living Art Museum in Reykjavík. After some confusion over how the statue came to be in the rudimentary rocket atop a steel launchpad, it came to light it had been placed there by artists Bryndís Björnsdóttir and Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir, who told Vísir that, in placing the statue in this new setting, they were making the point that it is racist and should be launched into space.

The spaceship and the statue have been marked with a plaque identifying it as “Carry-on: The First White Mother in Space.”

Speaking on Vísir’s evening news program, Bryndís said she and Steinunn were questioning what point was being made by referring to Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir as the “The First White Mother in America.”

“We are delighted that this racist work has finally come off its pedestal and is in its proper place in the spacecraft on its way to space. It will be launched and hopefully turn into debris that flies around the earth,” she said.

Artists gone rogue

Director of the Living Art Museum Sunna Ástþórsdóttir said the statue hadn’t been stolen in consultation with the museum and that she was as surprised as everyone else when it appeared Saturday. Snæfellsbær Mayor Kristinn Jónasson said he was just relieved the statue had been found, and he would be arranging for it to be picked up and returned to its pedestal in Laugarbrekka.

Guðríður was born in Laugarbrekka around the year 1000 and was considered the most travelled woman in the world, as well as the first Christian woman to give birth in North America when her son Snorri Þorfinnsson was born during a voyage to Vinland.

Living Art Museum Aims to Reflect Iceland’s Diversity

Nýlistasafnið/The Living Art Museum

The Living Art Museum in Reykjavík, Iceland, has sent out an open call for its autumn exhibition for the year 2021. The call is particularly directed at individuals and groups who have traditionally been excluded from fine art institutions in Iceland, such as the LGBT+ community, Icelanders of foreign origin, mixed Icelanders, immigrants, and “people who find themselves voiceless within the socio-political structure.”

“With this open application process, we want to counteract any kind of discrimination that takes place in our society today, such as racial inequality, and the suppression of marginalized groups and cultures,” a press release from the Museum reads.

The idea to direct the open call to marginalised groups and individuals came from the Museum’s staff and board earlier this year in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests occurring around the world. “This struggle […] led to a great deal of introspection by the board of the Living Art Museum. As a result, it has become clear to the museum’s management that we have not been able to fully reflect the diverse growth that characterizes art and human life in Iceland.”

“It is important that all cultural institutions in the country undergo a substantial self-examination. What kind of space are these institutions creating? And for whom?” the Museum states, and the project representatives say they hope the initiative serves as a guiding light for other institutions in Iceland

To go over the open call submissions, the Museum’s board is putting together a special selection committee “in order to ensure diversity and counteract hidden bias.” The deadline for submissions is October 4. All the application details, including translation of the text to Arabic, Polish, and Icelandic can be found here.