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Synchronicity and Santiago Sierra

Yeah, I didn't get it either. They were just there, in front of Hallgrímskirkja, these big black letters, begging me to snap a shot. So I did. And I had intended to write I have no clue what this is all about, but then I saw an article in Fréttablaðið** about the guy behind the word, one Santiago Sierra. He will be installing his stafir (letters) at Austurvellir in support of citizens' rights to democracy throughout the world, on this, the third anniversary of the loud and messy protests here in Iceland in the same town square.

Sierra's work has a certain commanding austerity to it, as can be seen in his portfolio on His biography there reads:

"In his work Santiago Sierra often addresses structures of power that operate in our everyday existence. Sierra's work intervenes into these structures exposing situations of exploitation and marginalisation, famously hiring underprivileged individuals who, in exchange for money, are willing to undertake pointless or unpleasant tasks. Sierra's work never repeats reality, but challenges it exposing its intrinsic mechanisms. The essence of the work is often in the tension generated and sustained between the event or its documentation and the spectator, who is exposed to what can be described as the formal and poetic articulation of the voice of all those who are normally marginalised or disenfranchised."

Powerful words!

And I have to say, I feel lucky to have been able to get this photo as the sight of those two simple letters, capitalized, in bold black, strapped to a flatbed and parked in front of our most famous institutional structure have stayed with me since. That the church behind it looms symbolically over a statue of Leifur Eiriksson, a representative of the old-world religion it tried to destroy, made this setting, though temporary, a perfect place for Sierra's word to be displayed.

On a lighter note, my father Thor and I have been invited to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations between the US and Iceland tonight by the US Ambassador to Iceland, Luis E. Arreaga (he has a blog!) at Nasa, a venue located at Austurvellir that some of you are familiar with from it's long lines during Iceland Airwaves (book your tix for 2012 now! They sell out mighty quick!)

Tonight we'll actually be entertained by local musicians who have done the Airwaves festival, LayLow and Of Monsters and Men (that link takes you to an NPR / KEXP shout out : ) who in this video are playing a song from their Airwaves Off Venue Reykjavík Downtown Hostel gig, produced by a very sweet and super talented DJ-Producer American friend of mine, Manny, whose last name is Santiago, like the NO artist's first name, and who interestingly enough was contacted by a long lost friend out in the States after he had seen Manny's Guest Photographer post here on Iceland Eyes. Incidentally, this photo of Manny's was taken at the Reykjavik Art Museum which is hosting the exhibition of which Sierra's NO is a part.

Nice synchronicity, eh?

** The daily free newspaper that I've requested not be shoved into my mailbox because life is kinder without being constantly slammed with hype and adverts every day, but which I'm subjected to anyway whenever a new delivery person takes our route, causing that phenomenon known as Middle Class Guilt because now I'm responsible for recycling inky garbage I never wanted in the first place! *sigh*

1 comment:

I'd Rather Be in Iceland said...

I love that your city always has so much interesting stuff going on, and is small enough that pretty much anyone can go and do it! I'd be interested in seeing and doing everything you mentioned.