Friday, December 5, 2008

What is Art?

I try to keep art reviews in different blog but there are always some exceptions.
Reykjavik Art Museum has an interesting exhibition of Hlynur Hallsson. It is called In/Out . The artist decided to play with people's expectations about art, museums, and exhibitions. We are used to see art work confined to the museum's or galleries' quarters. Such placement elevates the most mundane pieces to the status of art, confirms that they are not just everyday objects but something meant to inspire. What if they will be removed from their natural settings, will they still preserve their status? And if everyday objects will find their way into exhibition hall, will they be magically transformed into art pieces?

Hallsson borrowed the works of several Icelandic artists from the museum and exhibited them in the stores, cafes, hair salon, and banks all over the city center. He then took objects from those places and relocated them in the hall of the museum, presenting them as art pieces. So each object, be it a coca cola bottle, coffee grounds, or books, represents a certain art work taken from the museum. In order to figure out what art work it was, visitors are invited on a treasure hunt around the city (the maps are provided at the information desk.) The viewers will discover the statue of Finnboggi Pétursson by Karin Sander in the Viking souvenir shop; Guðrún Vera's work "Spectator" gazing down at customers in the Eymudsson's book store; Eggert Pétursson's painting -at 10-11 grocery store. On a walk through Austurstræti, Bankastræti and Laugavegi the visitors will encounter the works of such well known masters as Kjarval, Ásmundsson, Hreinn Friðfinnsson along with the works of younger generation. It is certainly creates an interesting twist on exploring the city.

Hallsson's project, according to the catalog, meant " not only to ask questions that relate to the semantically loaded site of the museum, but also broaches questions that have to do with viewer"s experience of art." It is also a brilliant strategy to boost local economy. Tourists, who are the most frequent visitors of the museum, will be lured to the streets in search for art works and spend some money along the way. Hat off to Hlynur Hallsson.

Karin Sander "Finnboggi Petursson"

Guðrún Vera "Spectator"

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