Contemporary Art from Iceland – The Environment of Ragnar Kjartansson


Matthias Wagner K’s talk has offered an insight into the nature of artistic production in Iceland.
He traced the history of its origins as well as the continuing influences on recent Icelandic art, for instance of the German-born Swiss artist Dieter Roth (1930-1998), who later lived in Iceland. Wagner K clarified why process, performance, and a preference for cooperation between artists working in different genres define the artistic practice of nearly every Icelandic artist – also and especially in terms of Ragnar Kjartansson’s artistic milieu. Particularly in Iceland, a country being changed by the impacts of globally circulating information, commodity and capital flows, the notion of art as defined by the fine arts is constantly being revised as it adapts to new social, technical, or intellectual historical conditions. Taken in reverse, we can understand this to mean simply that art acts as a reflection of ourselves in mirroring such social phenomena and developments, issues and experiments.

Matthias Wagner K (*1961 in Jena) lives and works in Berlin. He has curated numerous exhibitions on the subject of Icelandic cinema, contemporary art, as well as fashion and design. He served, among other things, as artistic director for the first “NORDIC FASHION BIENNALE –Fashion and Jewelry from Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland,” is curator at the Nordic Embassies in Berlin, and in 2008 he was commissioned to curate the arts and culture program “Fabulous Iceland – Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2011”.