Reykjavík Arts Festival Visual Arts Program 2012
Opening weekend 18 – 21 May 2012
Saturday May 19 will be dedicated to openings of the exhibitions
International seminar in the Nordic House May 20
Many exhibitions will run throughout the summer.
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.
Whether they have been working together for a long time or been composed to undertake a temporary collaboration, all the artists participating in this project do so as part of a joint venture. Artists’ collectives, partnerships, workshops and exchanges permit an investigation of artistic subjectivity and authorship, allowing knowledge to be acquired so that it may be shared with others. Both thematically and performatively, the construction, intention and focus of this exhibition may be seen to parallel the notion of a ‘third space’ (Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, Routledge, 1994).
This allows seemingly incommensurable differences to be negotiated, rendering meaning ambivalent and warping the mirror of representation. In turn, cultural knowledge is revealed as a hybridised, open and expanding code. Such an intervention – made possible through exchange between a cluster of museums, galleries, artist-run spaces and institutions in Iceland and abroad – quite properly challenges our sense of the historical identity of culture as a homogenising, unifying force. This further relies on participants relinquishing their subjectivity, or momentarily placing it in parenthesis; in this way, artists create the specific uncertainty that makes the third, other, hybrid identity possible. Through this process, a position is generated at which the in-between of collaboration can potentially become a site for social and cultural transformation – a locus around identities, at which becoming can resist the impetus toward homogeneity.
Often labelled as either ‘alternative’ or ‘independent’, several of the participating groups address questions concerning the structure of the mediated (art) world. By moving beyond ideas of national representation, concepts of public and private, author and audience, this context might provide a nuanced discourse about commonality. By describing a place between subjectivities, ideologies, interests and structures, the temporary, in-between space created in Reykjavík can become a proposition for unimagined ideas to be examined, planned and constructed. This position has been portrayed as a vessel without sharp contours – as ambiguous, vague and indefinable; however, these are the very qualities that often make contemporary art worthy of hope. Or, in the words of Elizabeth Grosz, “The space in between things is the space in which things are undone, the space to the side and around, which is the space of subversion and fraying, the edge of any identity’s limits. In short, it is the space of the bounding and undoing of the identities, which constitute it”. (Elisabeth Grosz, Architecture From Outside, MIT Press, 2001).
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.