Iceland might be the unfair recipient of international grumpiness after millions of people earlier this year had their blind faith in air travel technology sorely tested by an unknown Icelandic volcano and its ash cloud. Also, the Icelandic economy went into a spectacular meltdown a couple of years ago with some rather surreal implications for the traditionally well-funded arts in Iceland.
Given all this, it’s interesting to see that, instead of sheepishly keeping a low profile, this weekend has seen the launch of Villa Reykjavik, a project that defiantly declares the Icelandic capital at the centre of things and invites fourteen international galleries to turn the centre of the city into a haven for the visual arts and its audiences in a range of pop-up spaces.
Following numerous growing curatorial positions that challenge the historic divisions between the commercial gallery and non-profit sector, Villa Reykjavik has invited fourteen international galleries representing artists and selling art to undertake the project, underlining the growing belief that the commercial sector these days constitutes an equally important curatorial forum complementing the traditional museum circuit.
Amongst the galleries participating or in the artists selected for presentation, there is a strong presence of northern European and the Baltic region. This is probably self-explanatory when one realises that the project has come about through a collaboration between the Polish gallery Raster and various Icelandic organisations.
In amongst those with clear regional connections, the line-up also includes respected participants who have travelled some distance such as Jan Mot, Brussels; Hollybush Gardens, London and Rodeo, Istanbul.
Villa Reykjavik runs for a month and will include a range of satellite events in addition to the exhibition presentations themselves. So if you happen to be passing through the Icelandic capital, with its almost endless daylight at this time of year, you probably can’t miss it.