Plans to 3D-Scan Historical Sculpture

sigurjón ólafsson

Experts are planning to attempt to recreate Saltfiskstöflun, “Stacking Saltfish,” by Sigurjón Ólafsson. RÚV reports.

Sigurjón Ólafsson, born 1908, was a significant figure in Icelandic art history, working in both abstract and realistic forms. The original, which is now in poor condition, was the sculptor’s largest-ever work at the time of its creation.

The artwork has stood in the Mariner School’s courtyard for 70 years. The piece was a tribute to Icelandic women who worked in fish processing and it was considered unconventional and radical at the time.

The government purchased the work from Sigurjón in 1946, and it was cast and installed in 1953. Maintenance and care are the responsibility of Reykjavik City.

Birgitta Spur, Sigurjón’s widow and founder of the Sigurjón Ólafsson Art Museum (LSÓ), stated to RÚV: “I believe it is the last resort to try and obtain a 3D scan of the artwork for preservation. It seems its lifetime is over,” says Birgitta.

Experts who have evaluated the artwork agree that it is in poor condition and cannot be salvaged as it is.

Currently, the plan is to make a plastic mould from a 3D scan. A new sculpture will then be cast from the mould. Experts estimate that the entire project could take seven to eight months to complete.

Sculpture Will Be Relocated Following Fatal Accident

An outdoor artwork in the East Iceland town of Djúpivogur will be relocated following a fatal accident. A tourist in his 60s died after being run over by a construction vehicle at the site of the much-visited art installation by Sigurður Guðmundsson. Sigurður and Björn Ingimarsson, mayor of Múlaþing municipality, decided at a meeting last week that the artwork would be relocated to another seaside location within the town.

The harbour area of Djúpivogur, where the man was run over, is the site of ongoing construction. A rope had been installed to separate pedestrians from vehicular traffic, but it had been removed at the time of the accident due to construction activities. “It is, however, not certain that this fixture would have prevented the accident that occurred, as those who visit the site are not all using the walking path that is marked and so it is our consensus that the removal of the artwork from the area is necessary,” a notice from the municipality states.

“We mourn the tragic accident that happened by the artwork and want to do everything in our power to prevent something like this from happening again,” the notice underlines.

The artwork consists of 34 oversized birds’ eggs of polished stone. When it was originally installed, in 2009, there was little traffic in the harbour of Djúpivogur. The site has since become a hub of industrial activity, which is set to increase in the near future.

“Wind Harp” Sculpture Unveiled at Harpa Concert Hall

Elín Hansdóttir Harpa sculpture Himinglæva

Himinglæva is the name of a new stainless-steel sculpture by Elín Hansdóttir that will be officially unveiled outside of Harpa Concert Hall tomorrow. It’s a work of art that is not only meant to be seen, but also heard. An “Aeolian harp,” the sculpture is designed to produce sonic overtones as the wind travels through it. Its name comes from Norse mythology, and means “transparent, shining, and small wave.”

In Norse mythology, sailors who sensed the power of the wind and waves around them assumed that the mythical figure Himinglæva was embodying the water and propelling their vessels across the ocean. Alluding metaphorically to this legend, the harp is designed to attune the viewer to the natural forces around them. The shape is based on a Lissajous figure, representing the shape of light beams reflected through vibrating tuning forks. The sounds it produces change based on the force of the wind travelling through it.

A long time in the making

The sculpture has been a long time in the making: back in 2008, before Harpa was completed, a design competition was held for public art in the environs of the concert hall. Himinglæva was the winning entry. Funding priorities shifted following the banking collapse, but thanks to a monetary gift from the City of Reykjavík and the state given to Harpa last year, the concert hall could finally fund the construction of Elín’s design.

Elín’s work often involves visual distortions that heighten the viewer’s awareness of their own presence in relation to the artwork. Himinglæva plays with sonic distortions instead, exploring how a sculpture can filter the natural environment around it.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson will be present at the sculpture’s unveiling in front of Harpa at 4:00 PM tomorrow. Elín is currently completing a residency in Berlin, but will travel to Iceland for the unveiling of Himinglæva.

Where can I find the sculpture of a man with a big rock on his body?

Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat by Magnús Tómasson Reykjavík

The sculpture you’re looking for is the “Monument to the Unknown Bureaucrat.” The sculpture, which combines the lower half of a person in a suit carrying a briefcase and a massive unhewn rock where the upper torso and head should be, was created by Icelandic sculptor Magnús Tómasson in 1994.

The sculpture used to be located in an alleyway off Lækjargata, perhaps a nod to the obscurity of the character it represents. But today it stands prominently at the northern end of Reykjavík’s central pond, Tjörnin, at the end of the long footbridge leading into city hall.

The statue is an ode to the faceless member of government, toiling away without much thanks or praise – hence the figure being reduced to a generic body of a business person, with any distinguishing features obscured by a large boulder.

Magnús has said the sculpture is his take on monuments to unknown soldiers that you can find in many countries around the world to pay tribute to people who have given their lives in defence of their countries. “There is no army in Iceland, but plenty of officials,” Magnús told Morgunblaðið newspaper about the work. “And I thought it appropriate that the infantry of the bureaucracy, the anonymous destinies of the lives of ordinary people, should have their monument.”

Magnús is also the creator of a large sculpture placed prominently outside Iceland’s international airport in Keflavík. The “Jet Nest” is a massive steel egg sitting atop a nest of basalt rock. Poking out of the cracked egg is the wing of a jet that resembles the beak of a bird.

Arctic Circle Landmark Irks Locals

Grímsey’s wandering landmark, an eight-tonne [17,600-pound] concrete sphere that marks the point at which the Arctic Circle crosses the small island off the coast of North Iceland, has, since its installation in the fall of 2017, irked locals and tourists alike, mbl.is reports.

Known as “Hringur og kúla,” in Icelandic or “Orbis et Globus” (‘Circle and Sphere’) in Latin, the monumental artwork was installed on the island in 2017 and was specifically designed to move, as the Arctic Circle is not a fixed point, but, as smithsonianmag.com explains “…is defined by the tilt of the Earth toward or away from the sun, which is known to fluctuate up to 2.4 degrees every 40,000 years or so. Currently, the Arctic Circle is actually moving north from Iceland at a rate of about 48 feet per year.”

And so, every year, the giant sphere has to be moved to follow the circle. According to creator Kristinn E. Hrafnsson, this movement, which is “a direct reference to nature’s progress and perpetual motion,” is precisely what makes the work so affecting. Some locals, however, feel that it creates unmanageable expectations for tourists who only have a limited time on Grímsey. Some are suggesting that it be moved closer to town.

“What the sphere has primarily done is to draw all the tourists out of town,” remarked Guðrún Inga Hannesdóttir, who is a member of the Grímsey town council. “It’s a three-hour round-trip walk [to its location on Grímsey’s northern coast] from the port, which is really dubious when people come on flights and only have an hour and a half. Before, the [Arctic Circle] was right by the airport and everyone was really happy to cross it.”

“Little Mersausage” Statue Raises Eyebrows in Reykjavík

A new sculpture that was installed in Tjörnin pond on Friday night as part of the Cycle Music and Art Festival has raised some eyebrows in downtown Reykjavík for its resemblance to a phallus, mbl.isreports. Artist Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir acknowledges the similarity, but says it wasn’t the original point of the work, which, among other things, is meant to celebrate Iceland’s 100-year anniversary as a sovereign nation.

“Hafpulsan,” which has been called “The Little Pond Dog,” in English, or in other places, “The Little Mer-Sausage,” takes its name from the combination of the Icelandic words for ‘mermaid’ (hafmeyja) and ‘hot dog’ (pulsa/pylsa). And while its shape may indeed bear some resemblance to male genitalia, The Mersausage also strikes a pose similar to that of the famous sculpture of H.C. Andersen’s Little Mermaid, which is famously perched alongside a Copenhagen waterway. Icelandic artist Nína Sæmundsson also sculpted her own bronze version of the Danish sculpture, which has been a resident of Tjörnin pond since 2014.

“It’s a hot dog that is sitting like a mermaid on a little bread roll out in the pond,” explained Steinunn. “It’s sitting tall and pleased with itself, but then it’s also a little mer-sausage in a pond, some kind of strange, handless creature that has no idea how powerful it is. It’s also a bit uncanny,” she continued.

Steinunn does, however, acknowledge some gender play in her sculpture. “It is both a mermaid, which is generally female, and also a penis, in that it’s pretty difficult to work with this sausage form without it turning into a penis. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” she said.

The theme of this year’s Cycle Festival is “A Nation Among Nations,” which artistic director Guðný Guðmundsdóttir says concludes a two-year research project on Icelandic sovereignty in the context of colonial history. The inspiration for Steinunn’s sculpture actually dates back to 2009, when the artist made a video and installation called “Lýðræðið er pulsa,” or “Democracy is a Hot Dog,” which was exhibited in advance of parliamentary elections.

“…[I]t ignited my interest in a hot dog as a metaphor,” explained Steinunn. “The idea with the video was that a hot dog in its hot dog bun is an obligation—it is democracy. We can’t choose what it’s like, whether we have it or not—we’re born into it. But what we can choose are the toppings and when we go to vote, we’re [also] choosing toppings. But in the end, we’re all eating hot dogs and the difference between parties is greater than the difference between remoulade and mustard, all of it just rather cheap ‘junk,’” she said. “Democracy is a Hot Dog” has since been shown on election days in 2009, 2013, 2016, and 2017.

“Hafpulsan” will be on display in Tjörnin pond until December. Steinunn says her dream is for a bronze cast of the sculpture to be installed in Tjörnin in perpetuity. “I hope that most people get a kick out of it and that it’s an inspiration in the broadest sense. In the end, it’s just some strange creature that lives in the pond.”

President Encounters a Familiar Face on East Iceland Visit

President Gudni Th. Jóhannesson encountered a familiar face on his latest visit to East Iceland: his own. RÚV reports that during a tour of the arboretum in the Hallormsstaður National Forest, the president and First Lady Eliza Reid were not only shown some of the forest’s oldest and most majestic tree specimens, but also a partially completed bust of the president himself.

The bust was carved from a tree stump by the Norwegian chainsaw artist Arna Askeland. The story goes that Arna was at the arboretum on the day the president was elected—June 25, 2016—and decided to create a bust of Guðni when it appeared certain that he would be Iceland’s next president. Unfortunately, he ran out of time before completing the bust and told the forest rangers that he’d need two additional hours to finish it.

Two years later, the bust has still not been finished and mushrooms have sprouted on it, but it has remained in the care of the Hallormsstaður forest rangers. And for his part, the president seemed quite pleased with the bust, finished or not. “Time passes and the years progress and so will be the fate of they who hold the presidency,” he remarked. “There are busts of former presidents at Bassastaðir [the presidential residency]. As it stands, there’s no need to rush into anything: here’s mine done.”

Crime Line Tip Aids Recovery of Stolen Icelandic Statue in Louisiana

A life-size, 400-pound [181-kilo] statue by Icelandic artist Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir was reported stolen from the U.S. city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana this week, but happily, was recovered from a nearby parking lot a day later, The Advocate reports. The sculpture—worth $60,000 [ISK 6,540,000; €52,527]—was one of 22 aluminum and iron human figures that comprise Steinunn’s traveling installation “Borders,” and was discovered to be missing when workers began transporting the figures to their next destination, the Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana.

According to The Advocate, “Renee Chatelain, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, said organizers were hoping the statue had been misplaced or relocated for routine levee maintenance,” but a fruitless, month-long search left no doubt that the sculpture had been stolen. The statue was bolted to a levee-side bench, which was then in turn bolted to a bike path. Chatelain noted that the thieves would have needed tools and a vehicle to remove it.

“The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge would like to thank the Baton Rouge community, all media outlets, Baton Rouge Police Department, and Crime Stoppers for their efforts in putting the word out that this iron sculpture is missing,” wrote the organization in a Facebook post on Thursday. “We have faith that as a community we can come together and locate this missing piece of art.” Remarkably, the public appeal yielded almost immediate results: the statue was found in a downtown parking lot not far from its original location, covered in dirt or spray paint but otherwise undamaged. An employee of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge and two police officers hoisted it into the back of a truck; it will be soon be transported to Shreveport, LA along with the four remaining “Borders” statues still in Baton Rouge.

RÚV points out that this isn’t the first time that Steinunn’s traveling sculptures have been subjected to vandalism or theft. “Four years ago, a 13-year-old boy was charged with vandalizing the statues while they were on display in Grant Park, Chicago,” while another of her works, “…dedicated to British seamen killed off the Icelandic coast, was stolen while on display in Hull, UK.”

Steinunn describes “Borders” as a work which promotes unity. As she explained to The Advocate, the figures in the installation were “…modeled after her youngest son and their arrangement aimed to encourage interaction from the public to bridge the gap — or fill the space — between the paired statues, furthering the idea that people can look different but still have fundamental similarities.”

A Charmed Life

Aðalheiður Eysteinsdóttir

Siglufjörður is a small town in the north with a population of just over 1200 people. One of the 1200 people in town is artist Aðalheiður S. Eysteinsdóttir, whose wooden sculptures are instantly recognisable to most art lovers. Iceland Review sat down with her and her daughter Brák Jónsdóttir to learn more about an artist’s life in Siglufjörður.

This content is only visible under subscription. Subscribe here or log in.

Continue reading