Reykjavik Arts Festival: an experiment in creativity

vikingLast week, the annual Reykjavik Arts Festival kicked off with the Icelandic President, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, inviting artists into his home for a warm reception. Events, installations and exhibitions will remain active around the entire country until June 5th.

Exhibitions are not only located in the culture rich capital, but can also be found by venturing further afield. Akureyri, Egilsstadir, and Reykjanesbaer are hosting exhibits this year.

This year’s festival has a strong focus on visual art; however there are several musical events on the festival calendar. On May 29th, there will be an evening of songs inspired by local poet Steinn Steinarr. The following evening, a group from Guinea-Bissau will perform and a concert by Super Mama Djombo is a rare opportunity not to be missed.

At the Reykjavík Art Museum, one of the festival’s main events is the Experiment Marathon, which runs the entire duration of the festival. The event is curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Olafur Eliasson, who are bringing together artists and scientists from Iceland, Brazil, Croatia and elsewhere to discuss a variety of topics, not all of them directly related to art.

At the opening of the exhibit on May 15th, Olafur Eliasson expressed his desire that visitors would connect through the festival to the experimental art littered around Reykjavik.

“We don’t see them going out of where they live and into the art. We see them going closer to where they live and into the art,” Eliasson said. “The whole idea of the coming together is not necessarily about going away, but about coming home.”