Thursday, January 19, 2012

Number One

Bus Number 1 ends at Vellir 7.
It leaves its engine running for about twenty minutes.
The drive has a key to a little kitchen in a grey container.
He lights his pipe, Brynhildur and I change shoes
– by now, I'm wearing borrowed gloves, shoes and a rain coat–
– I like to wear other people's things –  
The bus drives off to its other end point, Hlemmur.
Exactly 3 minutes later another Number One 
stops at the exact same place.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Field Essays - Unveiling Hafnarjordur

Today we headed to THE NEIGHBORHOOD with special guest Pétur Thomsen; for his photographic project Àsfjall, commissioned by The National Museum, he followed the built and untouched surroundings of this "small hill with a huge name" since 2008. Thomsen has been capturing traces of what he calls 'umhfverfing' (environmentalization) for some time now - the way cities expand into the surrounding nature, and the conflicts that these encounters produce, are made tangible in his work. Sometimes the presence of the man-made is hard to discern. For instance, in the third picture I took, the diagonal hilltop is actually the limit of a construction dump on the other side.

The students were asked to bring their particular interest to this area - as  a physical object, in their pocket. This way they documented Hafnarjordur through the lens of bees, rust, time or social contact. Interesting questions have already started to arise regarding alternative histories for this area. To be continued...


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Your country doesn't exist

Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson opened their show Under Deconstruction last friday at the National Gallery. The show included Il Tuo Paese Non Esiste, 2011 (Your Country Doesn´t Exist) (ongoing from 2003). The fact that they have been working on this project for many years, producing different iterations in relation to varying contexts and countries, gives the initial title a lot of body. I would nearly want to see this title materialized in every single language of every single nation state of the world... From the moment I saw this image, it did its work - made its way to my conscience and my subconscious. And hasn't left it since. This sentence is important. It anticipates a shift in thinking and in the way we categorize the world. All we need to do it is appropriate it. Luckily, we can start by wearing it because Libia and Ólafur designed a very seductive t-shirt bearing the words.. in Icelandic!



Surrendering to Iceland

The video Surrender is by Ólöf Arnalds. The way she visualizes birth in this video is breath taking.

Also mesmerizing is Björk's new album-app Biophilia, in which she took on the challenge of teaching music theory through the wonders of nature. See this article in Grapevine on this musicological ecosystem...

Nature + Music + Technology = Biophilia

Click here for the biophilia app on Bjork's site 

Today I waited for the sun to rise from a hot outdoor tub at the Vesturbaejar swimmingpool. 

The waiting for the day to break is long enough to make you crave for it 
– when it finally happens, it's as though everything and everybody, buildings, colors and humans alike, are relieved. 

Also today, the smoky bay cleared and mountain Esja appeared behind the shipyards.

Yesterday I experienced the tolt, a specific rythm characteristic of Icelandic ponies.
My pony was Jasper, a 22 year old lord of the hills. 
"Dont' be fooled by his age", the girl told me before I mounted him.

The tolt is smooth enough to take in the landscape while moving very swiflty across it.
It's contained but forward driven. 
It's addictive like many other things here.

The specifics of the tolt for the amateurs of details:

"For Icelandic ponies, it's a fifth gait-a single-foot or running walk.  All Icelandic ponies walk, trot and canter.  Most will also pace-move both legs on the same side at the same time.  They pace as a way of resting after a fast gallop.  Some will even tolt. The tolt is a four-beat gait, with the footfall sequence the same as the walk, for example right rear, right fore, left rear, left fore." 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Field Essays - Iceland 1

Field Essays meets Reykjavik (smoky bay)!

Day one proved one of changes of plans, 
and brought about some wonderful first encounters here in Iceland,
Thanks to my hosts Brynhildur Pálsdóttir and Tinna Gunnarsdóttir.

The workshop at the Iceland Academy of Arts will start monday - the plan today was to go visit photographer Pétur Thomsen in Sólheimar, a sustainable village community of about 100 inhabitants, one –icy– hilly road away from the capital.
The icy road and the non-functioning window wipers brought us to another place - Tinna's parents' home, a beautifully furnished apartment with a view on the bay (smokey indeed, today). After a delicious lunch and switching cars (for an even bigger four wheel drive) we headed for Hafnarborg, the home town of Brynhildur, and the unbuilt neighborhood of Hafnarfjörður, which will be the site of inquiry of this Field Essays. 

Hafnarborg is a place with a distinction - you are from there, or you aren't. Bryndhildur grew up there, but now lives in Reykjavik - her childhood friends still wonder about this. By contrast, Hafnarfjörður is an area that is still looking for its sense of place. Pétur Thomsen says about it: " What makes this area an interesting subject for a photographer is that it graphically portrays the situation in Icelandic society today, and the immense developments that took place all over the Reykjavík area during the past few years. A new neighbourhood is taking root in nature, right next to a nature reserve. But the downturn in the economy has slowed the development down. A lot of the property around there is now for sale, and many building foundations have been left untouched for some time. Events in the Icelandic society influenced how the project turned out. Within six months from its beginning the Icelandic economy collapsed." Hafnarfjörður is a very disputed place, not in the least because a large aluminum factory was implanted on the nearby coast. (Watch Dreamland to get an insight into the issues at stake...)

Walking around the area on unfinished roads between unlit lamp poles, it is as if time paused, to render the impact of human activities in nature startlingly visible. Here, a dilemma is made tangible - if "everything mankind creates is nature" (since mankind is in itself nothing else than nature) [quote from Aun, The beginning and End of Everything, by Edgar Honetschläger], then what is going on here?

To be continued...

Ps Note that the last image is a former potato storage. Compare it with the middle class and social housing developed in Hafnarfjörður!