fur hat keeps out the wind...
from Refrain, Einar Braggi
wrapped in its white cloak
the cheerful warmth moves
with the dream of spring through its veins.
I do not hear their murmuring
but feel it in my blood
a silent expectation
of a green needle beneath the snow.
It's the nearing end of winter in northern Iceland. Some days are warm, and some days the howling wind seems to be conspiring to blow my tiny rental car off the icy cliff and into the ocean. Spring is arriving, and today the sun pours into the studio from the skylight above.... at least in this moment. It might be snowing or raining in a another moment.
I spent the last two weeks exploring this region while photographing and collecting video and sound clips. In the evenings, I read Icelandic poetry and occasionally, a dense yet interesting book on sound arts (Listening to Noise and Silence). I have also enjoyed cooking and eating Icelandic specialties, such as lamb, Graflax, and what seems like endless varieties of cultured dairy products. I'm not yet sure how I will live without this.
I return my car tomorrow and have about 12 days to work in the studio, plan for my upcoming exhibition, and do research related to the Icelandic spar, which has become the unifying element in most of the new work.
I have also seen some really great exhibitions here in Akureyri. I am impressed with the vibrance of the contemporary art scene and the community of artist who live and work here. There have been new shows opening every weekend of April.
Kristján Pétur Sigurðsson at Populus Tremula
Delicious, Dagrun Matthiasdottir at the Center for Visual Arts
...and her amazing food table, which related to the exhibition.
I also stumbled upon the wonderful Manarbakka, which is a small home museum on a dairy farm. Adalgeir Egilsson, the farmer who is also an amazing collector of housewares, china, match boxes, photographs, and everything else you could imagine, houses his collection in a small yellow house that was moved from the neighboring town of Husavik to his beautiful farm on the ocean. He recently built a historically accurate turf house on site to house more of his collection. He unlocked the museum for me and patiently brought me through every room, telling me about the things he was most excited about and answering my questions. The colors and light were quiet beautiful, and I photographed with both my iPhone and with my film camera, because I couldn't resist it.
The museum and the carving that greeted me. Adalgeir made it from driftwood.
It's important to keep one's mustache out of one's tea.
In the turf house.
Ship photos that would come in the cigarette boxes.
Cats in several windows.... a man after my own heart.
And of course, the landscape itself is amazing and inspiring on it's own. Lava fields, steaming mountains, blue sulphurous water, boiling mud.... Iceland is a weird and wonderful place.
Steaming blue water.
Boiling mud is as weird as it sounds.
from Dimmuborger, Jokobina Sigurdarottir
Dimmuborger - Rocks of Darkness
Mystery and magic are your name.
I know that spectres on winter evenings
haunt the starlit snowdrifts there.
But tonight, triumphant spirits
of life are working their charms,
while light-elves are dancing
on leaves of birch, on tufts of thyme
and heather, and airy shadows
play among the dips and rocks.
Deep in the caves the old ghosts
of winter darkness dart their eyes,
grimace at the white magic,
toy with snow fissures.
And the ode to summer is blended
with tones of anguish, joy and weeping,
fear of death, the dream of life:
Dimmuborger, first and last.
Speaking of Dimmuborgir, I learned that there is also a metal band in Norway of the same name. This I learned from these three ladies, who are doing a residency on Hrisey Island. I went out to the island and met them, and we decided to travel together for the day (as they do not have a car). We had a lovely time taking photographs and floating in the Myvatn Nature Baths while we briefly got to know each other. A fun diversion from my solitary time.
Sanna, from Finland
Anne, from Germany
Kerttuli, from Finland
Back in the studio, I have been experimenting with a few things. More with the Icelandic Spar and the scanner, as seen in the test prints on the wall behind my desk. I've also been working on some animated scanner pieces involving spar and light. I was never able to resolve my film scanner issue, so I am improvising with the older scanner in the studio. Scanning my negatives will have to wait until I return.
I also collected soil samples, water and sulphur from Myvatn's geothermal area and have been experimenting with creating paint from these substances and scanning. Nothing I've made has moved me yet on this front, but I will continue to experiment. I did, however, become interested in putting the glass plates of mud on the overhead projector.
Hub of activity
It's 4pm now, still many hours of daylight to enjoy here in the north, as the light lingers in the sky now until after 10pm. Now that I've posted this update, perhaps it's time to take a walk, clear my head and plan for this next phase of studio-focused work.