o with the flue
There’s suffering for your art and then there’s almost freezing to death in the Icelandic wilderness. BRYNDIS SN/EBJORNSDOTTIR risked the latter and has the photos to prove it.
fitters: Brian Donaldson
'I‘hink of Iceland and a few things may spring to mind: Bjork. steaming geysers. 24-hour daylight. puffins. Rekja\ik as the site of the historical encounter between Reagan and (iorbachev in I985. Then there is the picture postcard spectacle of the Blue Lagoon. an oasis of warmth in a very big chill. halfway between the airport at Keflay ik and the capital city. In her new photographic c\hibition. (ilasgow-bascd let-lander Bryndis Snzebjornsdt’ittir has opted to show a rarely-seen side of her country —- a decision which caused her all manner of logistical and health— threatening problems. To capture the awe-inspiringly desolate images of Building .4 Balcony.
Suzebjornsdottir travelled to the forbidding terrain of
llornstrandir in the harsh north-west of the country. The area has been largely uninhabited for 50 years — save for the odd Arctic fox and outlaws fleeing from justice — and is now an official conservation area. 'I‘hat fact as well as her own roots there led her to take the trip by air. sea and then on foot with walking mate Mark Wilson.
‘II was an attempt to look around somewhere you Ita\e your roots in and I just got drawn into this
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Taking on the elements: Bryndis Snabjbrnsdéttir gets to grips with the great outdoors of Iceland
The quest to capture the wasteland for posterity became a fight for survival.
landscape and the challenges of it.‘ recalls Sntebjornsdottir. ‘Most people know Iceland from geysers and things like that but it‘s got mountains rising tip from the bottom of the sea and there‘s
something in me that is drawn to that kind of
The result of that attraction is a series of large and dramatic black and white format photographs on the Portfolio ground floor. The stairs leading upwards to the installation of the smaller colour shots evoke the climbing and the sense of journey undertaken by the thto.
Perhaps in the future. Suzebjornsdottir will attempt the same project in the wilder parts of her adopted homeland. ‘I walk around a lot and there are places in
the north of Scotland which give me the same kind of
feeling.‘ she insists. ‘I‘m interested in places like St Kilda. but that‘s more of a tragic story where people were forced off. This area in Iceland gradually became deserted when the Norwegian fishing businesses pulled out and people were left to fight for their lives. One by one. they started to leave.‘
Without wishing to over- sensationalise things. there were moments when Suzebjornsdottir's quest to capture the wasteland for posterity became a fight for survival. On three occasions. she and Mark Wilson became seriously lost and were forced to shelter in the tiny survival hills which are spread few and far between within the vast area. Still. the photographer found a silver lining even within the heavy snow- clouds of the Icelandic interior.
‘It was worrying due to the fact that we had to keep a time schedule and were getting stuck on mountains and not knowing what to do in that situatioti.’ she says. ‘But it challenges so many things
yourself. your partnership. your art.’
Building a Balcony is at the Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 9 Ian—Sat 6 Feb.
Views and news of the art world.
CONTRARY TO THE hype, 1999 is not solely a year in which to prepare for the millennium bug — take the Warhol approach and stockpile cans of Campbell's soup, maybe? In Glasgow there is a year-long celebration of architecture and design, previewed in this issue on page 9. An early highlight, which will literally throw light on some the city's architectural assets, features Glasgow-based artist Stephen Hurrel. On Saturday 9 January from 8pm, Hurrel will project light and images onto such buildings as Park Circus, Govan Tower and St Mary's Cathedral. His show of ’aerial fireworks’ has been dubbed a ’dialogue of light'.
THE COMING YEAR is vital in some ways as a warm-up to the Year Of The Artist in 2000. What this exactly means, no one is quite sure. Will artists enjoy a year of unceasing public adoration? Probably not. For starters, Britain is endlessly bad- mouthed for its reluctance to buy contemporary art - Saatchi aside. Perhaps more beneficial would be to call 1999 the Year Of Art Buying to help the finances of artists. Interestingly the recently established Multiple Store is planning to tour throughout Britain in 1999 with multiple artworks. Among those artists commissioned are Scotland’s Kenny Hunter and Dalziel & Scullion, along with Cornelia Parker and Keith Coventry, whose works are all going for under £500.
THE HIGHLANDS ARE kicking off the New Year with an art campaign to combat social stigma against mental health. With support from the Scottish Arts Council, the project is master-minded by Highland Users Group (HUG) and takes the form of postcards. For further information call Robert Livingston at HI-Arts on 01463 244300.
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Public figures: one of HUG's postcards to help combat society's views of mental health
7—2I Jan I999 THEUSTBS