The 28th Reykjavík Arts Festival takes place from May 22nd - June 5th. Hanna Styrmisdóttir, Artistic Director of Reykjavík Arts Festival, announced this spring's programme under the heading Nicht Fertig / Not Finished, at a press conference at the Living Art Museum in Reykjavík a couple of weeks ago.
Nearly 500 artists will participate in or contribute to this extensive, diverse festival, featuring over sixty concerts, theatre productions, film screenings, performances and exhibitions. This is the second Reykjavík Arts Festival with Styrmisdóttir at the helm.
The focus of the 28th Reykjavík Arts Festival is on the artistic process in a wide context. Large-scale collaborations between artists from all fields are a distinguishing feature of the festival, but so are smaller events and exhibitions by individual artists. One of the roles of Reykjavík Arts Festival is to support artistic innovation and this year new commissions and premieres feature prominently in the festival programme.
Artists include Jamie Barton, Khatia Buniatishvili, Bryn Terfel, Matthew Barney, Arto Lindsay, Hreinn Fridfinnsson, Inuk Silis Hoëg, Michel Butor, Ólöf Nordal, Miłosz Biedrzycki, Margrét Bjarnadóttir, Ragnar Kjartansson, Tan Dun, Ingunn Fjóla Ingthórsdóttir, Tue Biering, Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, Sidsel Endresen, Lilja Birgisdóttir, Koho Mori-Newton and Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir.
The programme was launched during the installation of an exhibition that opened Saturday April 5th. In Styrmisdóttir's words:
“It is appropriate to launch a festival held under the heading Nicht Fertig / Not Finished during the installation of an exhibition, in particular one featuring the work of Hreinn Fridfinnsson and named time and time and again. This is the Living Art Museum's final exhibition in its current location and it closes on June 5th, the festival’s closing day. Our title this year comes from a crate containing the work of Dieter Roth, who was closely connected to the history of visual arts in Iceland and the Living Art Museum. The title says what everyone engaged in a creative process of any kind knows full well; that it is never finished.
The images used to introduce the festival were inspired by the Piano Transplants of American composer Annea Lockwood, created between 1968 and 2005. A transplant suggests reincarnation or recycling; it involves the movement of something from one place to another, enabling it to take roots in a new environment. This spring, Reykjavik Arts Festival will examine the artistic process that is never finished; the constant transformation involved in the process of an artist and an art work, as well as that involved in the audience's experiences which are renewed time and again.”
Nicht Fertig / Not Finished will open with a newly commissioned work by musician Högni Egilsson by the Reykjavik Pond on Thursday May 22nd, and close on Thursday June 5th. The Pond and Reykjavik Harbour will be central points to the festival's programme in the city, with a new music theatre performance by VavaVoom Theatre and the Bedroom Community premiered in Tjarnarbio Theatre and the Reykjavik Harbour transformed into a spectacular stage in
Fantastar, a new theatre work under the direction of Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir. Nicht Fertig’s opening concert at Harpa Concert Hall will revolve around history and recreation: The Reykjavik Chamber Orchestra will look to the past and to the future in a new concert installation based around their 1980 performance of Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire as well as the premiere of a new piece by renowned Icelandic composer Atli Heimir Sveinsson. The music programme that will ensue in Harpa features recitals by acclaimed, Welsh bassbaryton
Bryn Terfel and Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, hailed as ‘one of the great pianists of the future’ (The Guardian), the South Iceland Chamber Choir's performance of Sir John Tavener's Sonnets, widely praised after a world premiere in London in November, a collaborative performance by Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and visual artist
Leah Singer, the world premiere of a new work by composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, specially commissioned and performed by New York’s ICE Ensemble, and last but not least, Iceland Symphony Orhcestra's performance of Mahler's masterful third symphony, with the American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and conducted by Osmo Vänskä.
Large-scale collaborations are prominent in the festival programme: RIVER OF FUNDAMENT, a film by visual artist Matthew Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler, seven years in the making and described as ‘a brilliantly rendered, giddily self-referential satire of contemporary American culture’ (The Guardian), Der Klang der Offenbarung des
Göttlichen, a visual performance for the stage by Ragnar Kjartansson set to music by Kjartan Sveinsson, recently premiered at the Berlin Volksbühne, and visual artist Ólöf Nordal’s, composer Thurídur Jónsdóttir’s and animator Gunnar Karlsson’s multi-media, 3D installation entitled Lusus Naturae. At the National Gallery of Iceland an exhibition of newly commissioned works, curated by pianist Tinna Thorsteinsdóttir , will examine the piano as an experimental platform and subject of artists in all fields.
The Five Live Lo Fi in Kling & Bang is a visual arts exhibition in four episodes, an ode to the artistic process. Creative collaborations are the subject of IMA NOW in ASÍ Art Museum, and the life-long process of one artist and the transformative process of nature are the focus of Ragnar Axelsson's retrospective at the Reykjavik Museum of Photography. Cyclone in LÁ Art Museum is a group exhibition of Icelandic and Finnish artists, curated by Maria Krappala, dealing with borders, real and imaginary, and Keep Frozen part two at Gallery Thoka puts its focus on the historical process and the importance of regarding the future in light of the past. Mapping the Land in Hverfisgallerí, time and time and again in the Living Art Museum , Michel Butor and friends in the National and University Library of Iceland, and Borghildur Óskarsdóttir's Threads on Land are projects that use different approaches to examine the concepts of process and transformation. S7 – Sudurgata 7 – Árbær (Not in Service) is a collaboration between the Reykjavik City Museum and the Living Art Museum which together seek inspiration from the progressive initiative formerly run in the house by Sudurgata 7, now conserved at Árbær Open Air Museum.
A series of intimate concerts at the Mengi concert venue will give prominence to influential musicians such as Brazilian-American Arto Lindsay and Norway's Sidsel Endresen. The annual Art & Space series takes as its focus new musical compositions premiered in art spaces. Poetry and sound are given centre-stage in the spoken music programme ORT / The Word Music and the aural tunnels of the Inner Ear at Austurbær School. Classical music will play in the National Gallery of Iceland, where all of Beethoven's works for cello and piano will be performed.
This year’ closing performance Flight Trails: “..and the world was sung into existence” by Ragnheidur Harpa Leifsdóttir involves aerobatics and may have to be performed before the festival ends as it demands specific weather conditions. Continuing to the end, however, is In Your Hands, a dynamic workshop of artists, designers and engineers at gallery Spark Design, exploring the revolution in the creative and manufacturing process which is about to take place through 3D printing. Wakka Wakka Productions look back in time to Iceland’s economic crash six years ago in the puppet drama Saga, and Monika Fryčová presents her extraordinary project Pure Mobile which took her from Seydisfjordur in Iceland to Portugal and back again.
Tickets for all events: www.listahatid.is
Box office tel.: +354-561 2444 and +354-528 5050 for events at Harpa Concert Hall.