Video and text by luke kurtis.
I visited Iceland for the first time in October 2013. From the crisp blanket of ice atop Sandkluftavatn to the misty veil tumbling down Skógafoss, and even the crystal clear 2°C waters of Silfra—a snorkeling experience my mind nor my body will ever forget—I had a good first taste of the country. But as much as Iceland is synonymous with outdoor adventure—and for good reason—I found this land of fire and ice just as abundant in art.
Having ventured to Viðey to take part in Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower lighting—another experience etched in both mind and body—I craved a sampling of native Icelandic contemporary art. Reykjavik Art Musuem’s Hafnarhús proved just the ticket. I was pleased to find Icelandic Video Art from 1975 – 1990 on view. As a video artist myself, this seemed the perfect ticket towards a glimpse into Iceland’s take on this new media genre. The small installation features a diverse sampling of early video art practice in Iceland. By-and-large the artists are not well known outside their home country and web searches for their names produce almost no helpful results. What a crime this seems to me. And so I went into the editing room and put together my footage of the show to help remedy that problem. Through my own video, I hope to expose video art fans to these Icelandic works and, perhaps, contribute to a new international dialogue about new media work.
luke kurtis is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
Íslensk vídeólist frá 1975-1990 (Icelandic Video Art from 1975-1990) Listasafn Reykjavíkur (Reykjavík Art Museum), Hafnarhús September, 14, 2013 – January, 19, 2014 Curated by Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir Margrét will give a talk about the exhibition on Saturday January 11 at 3 pm.
List of Works (in the order shown in the video)
Steina Vasulka The West 1983 Two video and four audio channels, 30 min loop Audio: Woody Vasulka Property of the artist
Magnús Pálsson TALK (Preceding Eye Talk) 1986 2 min, 3/4 U-matic transferred to DVD, colour, audio National Gallery of Iceland collection
Finnbjörn Finnbjörnsson Insight 1984 24 min, 16mm film transfered to DVD, airbrush Music: Ingemar Fridell Property of the artist
Steina Vasulka Allvision 1976 Electro/opto/mechanical environment Equipment: Woody Vasulka Reykjavík Art Museum collection
Woody Vasulka Time / Energy Structure of the Electronic Image 1974-1975 Photograph on paper Reykjavík Art Museum collection
The Sugarcubes / Oxsmá Music videos: Birthday (1987), Regina (1989), and Pláneta [Planet] (1990) by The Sugarcubes; Kittý by Oxsmá
Sigrún Harðardóttir Dawn 1986 6 min, 10 sec; U-matic transferred to DVD, color, sound
Þór Elís Pálsson Skortur [Scarcity] 1981 21 min, 3/4" U-matic transferred to DVD, colour, sound Property of Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam
Ásta Ólafsdóttir It continues or not 1984 8 min, 10 sec; U-matic transferred to DVD, colour, sound National Gallery of Iceland collection
Ásta Ólafsdóttir Melon 1981 3/4" U-matic transferred to DVD, b/w, sound Property of the artist
Ólafur Lárusson Rainbow 1 Screen shots, black and white photo prints 1978 Property of the artist
Produced with the permission of Reykjavík Art Museum.