Reykjavík Arts Festival 2012 announces (I)ndependent People, a large-scale collaborative international visual arts project that will involve many of Reykjavík’s exhibition spaces, museums, galleries and public space during the festival season and throughout the summer. Focusing on contemporary visual art from the Nordic and Baltic countries, (I)ndependent People asks if and how collaboration can operate in continual negotiation between contesting ideas and desires, yet allowing unplanned and transformative action. All participating artists are engaged in established or temporary joint ventures. These artist-collectives, partnerships, collaborative workshops and exchanges serve as a dynamic investigation of artistic subjectivity and authorship.
The extensive project brings together 29 artist-collectives with the collaboration of over 100 participants. (I)ndependent People is curated by Swedish curator and theorist Jonatan Habib Engqvist and made possible through exchange and collaborative undertakings between a cluster of museums, galleries, artist-run spaces and institutions. Venues include Reykjavík Art Museum, The National Gallery of Iceland, The Nordic House, Kling & Bang, The Living Art Museum, The Icelandic Sculpture Association and ASÍ Art Museum, together with public space in Reykjavík and off-site events. Saturday May 19 will be dedicated to openings of the exhibitions with receptions and events at the venues from morning to evening and Sunday May 20 will host an international seminar.
Central to the exhibitions is the balancing act of remaining between controlling structures, formalising agreements, constituting norms and allowing change. Several projects will be realised during the course of the exhibitions, some with uncertain results. “By putting the ‘I’ in parenthesis and giving up the authorship of a singular artistic Subject, a specific uncertainty is created and another, hybrid identity is made possible. The in-between of such collaboration can become a site for social and cultural change. This temporary in-between space created in Reykjavík will serve as a platform for ideas yet to be imagined, examined and constructed. It’s a position that can be portrayed as ambiguous and indefinable, but these very qualities often make contemporary art worth putting our hopes to.” says curator Jonatan Habib Engqvist.
Participating artists groups are: 1857 - A kassen - Anonymous - AIM Europe - Box - Endemi - Goksøyr & Martens - IC98 - The Icelandic Love Corporation - Institut før Degeneret Kunst - Jóna Hlíf Halldórsdóttir & Hlynur Hallsson - Kling & Bang - Learning Site & Jaime Stapleton - M.E.E.H. - Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas + MIT 4.333 - Melissa Dubbin & Aaron S. Davidsson - No Gods No Parents (UKS) - NÝLÓ & Archive of Artist Run Initiatives - Raflost & Steina - Sofia Hultén & Ivan Seal - Superflex - The Artist Formerly Known as Geist - The Awareness Muscle Team - The Leyline Project - The New Beauty Council with Elin Strand Ruin, Mariana Alves & Katarina Bonnevier - Útidúr - Wooloo.
A historical core serves as a common point of reference for the exhibitions. Local trajectories of collaborative and artist-initiated practices from the region reaching over 40 years serve as background to questions such as: Do we share common, “alternative” histories in the Nordic region? Is it relevant to peruse them? How have the networks changed over time? Is it possible, desirable, to create dynamic and sustainable collaboration? These questions, and more will be addressed in a seminar on May 20 in the Nordic House with, among others, Lars Bang Larsen, Jon Proppe, Signal and participating artists.
Exhibition venues are Reykjavík Art Museum, The National Gallery of Iceland, The Nordic House, Kling & Bang, The Living Art Museum, The Icelandic Sculpture Association, ASÍ Art Museum and public space in downtown Reykjavík. In addition, several independent projectsare participating, including HORIZONIC, curated by Ásdís Ólafsdóttir in LA Art Museum; a two-man show curated by Chris Fite-Wassilak in i8 gallery; and a project by Art in Translation. A real-time video of the twelve hour performance “Bliss” by Ragnar Kjartansson and a large group of collaborators will be installed in the National Theatre of Iceland.
After successful Festivals in 2005 and 2008 with focus on visual arts, curated by Jessica Morgan and Björn Roth (2005) and Hans Ulrich Obrist and Ólafur Elíasson (2008), the visual arts program of this year’s Festival is produced in collaboration between The Reykjavík Arts Festival, Reykjavík Art Museum, The National Gallery of Iceland, The Nordic House, The Living Art Museum and The Icelandic Art Center. The collaboration has been expanded further to include Art Nord, Endemi, EDDA Center of Excellence, Kling & Bang, The Icelandic Sculpture Association, SÍM - Association of Icelandic Visual Artists, Reykjavík University, The Iceland Academy of Arts, MIT Boston, Torpedo Press and Art in Translation.
Most of the exhibitions will be on view through July/August. A complete program of all Reykjavík Arts Festival 2012 events, including concerts, theatre, literature, dance and visual arts, will be announced April 12, 2012 on www.artfest.is and www.independentpeople.is.
About the Reykjavík Arts Festival
The Reykjavík Arts Festival is one of the oldest and most respected arts festivals in Northern Europe. The festival is recognized as a premiere venue for outstanding acts in music, theatre, dance, and literature as well in the contemporary visual arts. In its 40-year-old history, the festival has hosted many outstanding international artists and performers. The atmosphere of the Reykjavík Arts Festival it truly unique and brings joy and inspiration to Iceland’s residents and guests each year in May.
About the curator
With a background in philosophy, architectural and aesthetic theory, Jonatan Habib Engqvist is a Swedish curator, writer, editor and lecturer. Engqvist has been engaged in several international interdisciplinary and collective projects. He has recently curated exhibitions at the Prince of Wales Museum in Bombay, India; Konsthall C in Stockholm and Färgfabriken in Stockholm and Östersund. Since 2009 Engqvist is part of the Artistic Research project Thinking through painting. He is particularly interested in art, architecture and the relationship between the studio and the exhibition space. He is editor in mischief at tsnoK.se and was co-founder and co-curator of the experimental program in The Studio at Moderna Museet with Camilla Carlberg and Lena Malm. With Maria Lantz he co-edited and translated the book Dharavi: Documenting Informalities. Wngqvist has previously been employed at Moderna Museet, Södertörn University, The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and is currently on sabatical leave from his position at Iaspis – The Swedish Arts Grants Committee's International Programme for Visual Artists.
The project is supported by Nordic Culture Point, Nordic Culture Fund, OCA, The Danish Arts Council, FRAME, HIAP, Konrad Fischer Galerie, Swedish Embassy in Iceland, The Public Buildings Art Fund in Iceland. Parts of the project by Melissa Dubbin & Aaron S Davidson are produced in collaboration between The Living Art Museum and Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Norway.
The curator will be present in the Nordic Lounge at the Armory Show 2012 with a selection of publications by the participants.
For further information, interviews and images, please refer to the following contacts:
Icelandic Art Center
Reykjavík Arts Festival