Reykjavík's Real-Time Art Festival Returns
Can you explain your approach on SEQUENCES 09? What will be the main focus?
Sequences has always emphasized on time-based art and this year will be no different. From the visual arts perspective performance might stand as the obvious choice of real time art and therefore we decided to really focus on the performative nature of art. This year the curatorial board decided to invite selected artists that had focused on performative arts in their general practice, to hand in proposals and few were selected. The festival this year will therefore mainly focus on performances and live events and not offer many standing exhibition in its programme.
Kristín Dagmar Jóhannesdóttir: We were really interested in investigating other art genres and see how they would work with visual art. We were especially focusing on finding some collaborative projects or some sort of rendezvous between stage arts and the visual arts. Those genres are also very connected to each other both in history and its practice even though they often seem to inhabit a totally different space in the cultural scene.
We are playing around with an old form of entertainment that existed around 1900 both in Europe, the United States and Canada known by different names such as Vaudeville, variety shows or speciality acts. This is perhaps most obvious in the work of Spartacus Chetwynd (UK) who will be performing at the festival this year but she has been called the queen of lo-fi art performance. These events included many different forms of entertainment, with everything from comedy acts, burlesque, freak shows to the first film screenings happening the same evening. But we are putting a contemporary twist to it. The festival as a whole could be seen as a “multifunctional stage” offering a wide range of events. But you could say that the focus is twofold. On one hand we have performance acts or events and on the other there are sort of mobile projects that happen around the city of Reykjavik, such as the work of Parfyme (DK), Páll Haukur Björnsson (IS) or the project American Meat LLC by artists Patrick Rock and Matthew Green (US). An example of the more traditional performative acts (and I say that with caution) could be experimental theatre works such as Entertainment Island by Oblivia (FI) or the work of Ingibjörg Magnadóttir (IS) that stand on a thin line between theatre and visual arts. Or ones that lean over to the field of contemporary dance such as the works of the artist-duo Prinz Gholam (DE) and the collaborative project by artist Björk Viggósdóttir and dancer Sigga Soffía.
You could also say that there is a Nordic focus in the artists line up this year. At least there are many international artists travelling to Iceland to take part in the festival this year and the majority are from the Nordic countries. This especially applies to the group exhibition (made up and let down) that will be taking place at the Lost Horse Gallery in Reykjavik. The exhibition is an intervention of Nordic artists living and working in London into the art scene of Reykjavik. They will also be having a seminar within our Lecture Series that emphasizes on Nordic Art in an international context. Others to mention are Danish artists Soren Dahlgaard or Icelandic artist Halldór Arnar Úlfarsson who lives and works in both Finland and Denmark.
But mainly our concept has grown from the work of the festival’s honorary artist, Magnús Pálsson. Throughout his carrier Magnús moved freely between genres in his art practice. He studied theatre design and visual art in the early 1950s and later working in both fields. In addition Magnús has written several artists’ books, plays and sound pieces/audio works that often connect with his performative work. Magnús has become one of the most influential person in the Icelandic art scene, both as a pioneer and mentor. But he considered teaching to be a form of art and, along with artist Hildur Hákonardóttir, founded the New Art Department in the Art School of Reykjavík (now Icelandic Academy of the Arts). In 2006 he received an honorary prize at the first Icelandic Visual Arts Awards for his life long contribution to art but it is worth mentioning that he will be celebrating his 80th birthday this year.
What will happen during the opening days?
The whole SEQUENCES week will be full of live events all over Reykjavík, both in public spaces, as well as in galleries and museums. But the opening night will include the work by Magnús Pálsson held at the Reykjavik Art Museum – Hafnarhús and a live event by video artist Sigurður Guðjónsson outside of Hugmyndahús, Grandagarði 2 (the festival’s headquarters) with a performance party taking place inside later on. Throughout the opening weekend there will be a full schedule of events such as the work of Spartacus Chetwynd, video-projection by Andrew Burgess on the Concert and Conference Center (Tónlistarhúsið) or an opening of the ongoing performance by Icelandic artist Curver.
From Monday until Wednesday of the festival week will focus on our Lecture Series that will be organized for the first time alongside the festival. Lectures, seminar and artists talks will be open to everyone at the Nordic House. Speakers will include some of the participating artists and selected speakers from the fields of visual arts, stage arts and theory.
The events will pick up again on Thursday with events such as performance by Egill Sæbjörnsson (IS) and go on until the closing night that will take place at the Nordic House on Saturday the 7th November. The entire programme will be announced soon so keep an eye on our website (www.sequences.is)
How has the crisis influenced your work? Will the current situation be mirrored somehow in the festival’s projects?
The crisis has of course influenced this festival as most things here in Iceland and we have had to work extra hard with a strategic mind on what we want to do. The whole financial landscape here in Iceland has changed drastically and we have had to think differently. For example, it was especially the banks that were supporting the arts in Iceland. But I guess optimism is important here. We started working on the festival early on and thanks to our sponsors, such as the City of Reykjavik, the Ministry of Culture and especially our foreign supporters like the Nordic Culture Point, Goethe-Institut or the French Embassy in Iceland, and our participating artists we have been able to put this festival together and are offering a spectacular program of both local and international artists.
October 30 – November 7, 2009
List: Icelandic Art News is published by the Center for Icelandic Art, a cooperative project of Iceland's museums and artists' organisations. List is edited by Christian Schoen and Jón Proppé. If you wish not to receive announcements of our new issues - or you want to contact us for any other reason - please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.