Opening speech: 8 February 2003

Cheers … It is traditional to offer wine or soft drinks at openings of art exhibitions. Cheers.

What I would like to do is to open, here and now, a workshop under the heading of SOMETHING ELSE. I would like to tell you in a few words why I decided to choose this path and explain the underlying concept of the workshop. We are at a cross-roads, Icelanders and all of Mankind – there are ominous signs and portents in the world, there is imminent war, and here in Iceland there are serious differences of opinion about our use of this land. There are many who feel that we are subject to cold materialism where everything is assessed based on cash value and the demand is for continuous economic growth. Another side of the same coin is the energy greed in the world. It seems insatiable and we see it, for example, in the manufacture of larger and heavier cars, which can weigh up to 3 or 4 tons and swallow 100 litres of fuel without effort. Conserving energy is definitely not cool. Energy greed is changing our modern economies into junkies, of a sort, craving bigger and bigger fixes. Up to the point where the lethal injection of war becomes the only solution.
As far as I know, the fundamental question of philosophy is: what is a good life? The only answer offered in our time is consumption, more consumption. In this respect, modern humans are enduring spiritual poverty, intellectual monotony. There is a demand in the air, or should we say a hope: A hope for SOMETHING ELSE – People want something else – people demand something else – people may not necessarily know what that something else is – but we are entitled to our wish - it is extremely important to possess this wish - But the reply from our leaders is: If you don’t have any solutions you shouldn’t complain.

I want to open a forum here for something else – people can bring in suggestions – discussions – write texts – draw pictures – set up models. The space will no doubt change in line with whatever happens here and will end up full of ideas, sketches, pictures, texts. The idea is to collect everything together in the end and publish it as a record of a certain situation – certain feelings – certain hopes and expectations – the year 2003.

The picture on the floor out here shows land – a glacial river, a spring-fed stream, run-off stream, lava, hot springs, swamp moss, typical Icelandic highland landscape. The waste lands. The waste lands are the uninhabited wilderness that characterises Iceland, a virtually unknown region – the land in the picture is in a certain way a blank page – we look upon it from above, like God – and we are God. We – and by us I mean the people in the land – control the land – this is our land – this is not the politicians’ playground. The problem is that there are so many people who do not realise this – we think that the politicians own the land – that is a complete misunderstanding. – The picture on the wall also shows land in formation. It shows how Man conquers the bleak hills – and eventually transforms them into sheltered areas with trees and hedges; human habitations with shelter from the harsh northern wind.

The space here in Gallery Hlemmur is a blank page, it is intended as a place for work on ideas, for discussion and creativity. Artistic space is a fantastic forum for such work. Artistic space is subject to different laws than other spaces; artistic space incorporates the freedom of the spirit.

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