At Kling & Bang, a gallery in Reykjavik, there’s a Carolee Schneeman work hanging. And a Finnborgi Petursson, a Martha Blondäl, a Ragna Helgi Olafsson, a Ragnaheidur Gestsdottir. To a New Yorker’s ears, all these names sound otherworldly, but these artists in Reykjavik for the Sequences Art Festival (which runs through Sunday, April 19), Iceland’s only artist-run biennial, are local art world elite. The tiny but mighty island has a disproportionately strong art community, which Alfredo Cramerotti, the UK-based curator and first non-Icelandic director of the seven-year old festival, was quick to find out. The first night he spent in Iceland was at Bjork’s house, where she dee-jayed the night away. No big deal. In Iceland, everyone is friends.
The festival is an equally social affair. Artists bump into each other in the snowy streets, cozy cafes, and sweaty saloons. Foundation directors and gallerists drink amongst kin. With nearly 30 artists, half of them Icelandic, tackling the central theme of plumbing—the island is known for its baths and geothermal energy, after all—discovering the artwork secreted throughout the city mimicked, as the curatorial statement describes it, a “complex network of pipes and wires.” Get dug in.