Category Archives: Architecture

Reykjavik’s Wall Against the Cold

Why does Reykjavik build a wall to separate itself from Iceland?

To keep back the sea, perhaps. On an island, this may be the way: one is always blocked by water. It can be comforting. As things evolve, however, blocking behaviour become internalized, and then when your colonizers give you cars, why, you can always drive around, right? There remains no price for blocking … or does there? Or does “driving around” still not untie an old, old knot?

The Hunt for the Best Art Gallery in Iceland

Is it goofing around with a culvert at Grandatorg?

Or lunch at the Kjarvalstaðir gallery?

Or goofing around with shop windows on Laugavegur?

Or just goofing around at Laugarnestangi as the sun comes up over Viðey?

Or a goofy farmer’s field on the way to Dettifoss?

Or a whole town goofing off at Kópasker?

Or an aluminum smelter buying allegiance with a pretty thing on Sæbraut?

Or doing more with less on Laugavegur because you need more with your less?

Or just goofing off with a little bit of security magic on Frakkastígur?

 

Or the painting amusing themselves at Kjarvalstaðir, because everyone has come to lunch with old friends, and the paintings are certainly old friends.


Or outdoing Mondrian in a sheep farm in the Fljótsdalur?

Or some weird kind of planting flowers to give children hope in front of some everybody-comes-to-Iceland-with-spray-cans-now-that-the-building-sites-have-been-abandoned-after-the-financial-meltdown, because what else?

Or politics? Is it an art gallery, too?

It’s the cigarette tin, right?

No, wait, it’s the riding stable signage in Akureyri!

No, wait! It’s spilled paint and a stick on a parking lot!

It never ends. Icelanders are a pretty serious looking bunch, even Björk, and they write about gruesome murders and stuff, and their novelists kill off all their heroes and heroines just because, but don’t believe it, because they’re always goofing off, with a straight face. Do you think the horses taught them about this, in those centuries of isolation?

Well, maybe not the straight face part.

Everyone Can be a Faded Polaroid at the Harpa and Dance with Yoko Ono Now

There is beautiful light in Iceland…

.

… and I mean really beautiful light …

… but tourism survives on images, so the great opera hall, the Harpa, allows anyone to view others as if they are in a faded Polaroid shot from the 1970s …

… or an Agfa shot from the 1960s.

This retro thing, this notion of quoting the landscape in the very moment one observes it, is something the Icelanders learned in graduate school in New York, London and Berlin. It’s charming, but remember …

… every wave that goes to sea in Skagafjörður leaves behind a space for beautiful light. It’s like the sun is right there, you know.

Hólar in the Spring

It is.

In Iceland, Everything is Hay

When your sheep are starving, you will feed them old twine, your family Bible, the shirt off your back, anything, because without sheep there is nothing. Of course, most Icelanders are no longer intimate with sheep. For them,  they hay thing has been updated, all modern and tip top. In Reykjavik, anything, anything, even an old couch or an old barbecue made out of paving bricks, is a window.

Hverfisgata

But, of course, that’s the beauty of it.

More Icelandic Fences Gone Rogue!

Just up the valley from Gunnar’s house, on the ancient road to the South, yet another Icelandic fence demonstrates the Icelandic idea that a fence is a kind of net. You cast it when there is something to catch.Sturluflöt, Villingadalur

Otherwise, it’s likely to be tangled up on the deck. Sometimes, I know, it’s hard to remember that the island is not a boat!



Icelandic Ghost Stories

As we can see here on Hverfisgata In Reykjavik, they’re all ghosts stories and the Icelanders are the ghosts within books their parents read, or they read when they were young themselves.

Charming.

As you can see, the relationships between technology, Icelanders, and time is haunting and complex. It’s a language in and of itself.

Who else do you know who lives so deeply within books that they have a transit system within them?


Reykjavik: always worth a read!