“We are old friends, Óskar Jónsson and Hrafnkell Sigurðsson. We have escaped from the Icelandic punk scene,” says Stefán Jónsson, one of Iceland’s prominent theater directors. These old friends have published an interesting book that is an extension of an ongoing art exhibition called Arctic Creatures. The project is the result of their hiking in the wilderness of Iceland and the skillful diversion of trash found on beaches across the country.
Great artist hiking
Old friends have come a long way since they were young. Stephan is a well-known actor and one of Iceland’s most skilled directors who can easily switch between state-of-the-art avant-garde and traditional theaters. Óskar Jónsson puts Icelandic cult classic films like Sódóma Reykjavík under his belt. In addition to being one of Iceland’s most famous visual artists for many years, Hrafnkell Sigurðsson is a frequent guest in the art section of Reykjavík Grapevine.
The three are friends and have been separated and reunited through various projects in their lives. For example, Stephan has appeared in Oscar’s films, and Frafunkel and Oscar have collaborated over the years.
Wilderness trash can
“And, of course, as we get older, we go to bars less often, so we started looking for nature,” explains Stephan. They started hiking Hornstrandir, one of Iceland’s most isolated places. They have been hiking together for 12 years, stepping into the wilderness with only their belongings and shared dating.
“We need to weigh everything from food, and sleep in a tent in any weather Iceland throws at us,” he says.
During their hike, the trio began to notice that the beaches of Iceland were littered with junk, no matter how isolated they were. Most often garbage from a significant number of fishing vessels in Iceland. Everything from nets to plastic barrels and lifebuoys.
Being three very creative individuals, they started joking, taking creative pictures of themselves with this trash, sometimes recreating historical scenes, and sometimes creating ridiculous moments. .. They published their photos on social media and got a lot of strong reactions. So they kept doing that, but they realized that there was probably a bigger story here.
Can plastic be a new Cairn?
“The original idea wasn’t to create art, but we got there slowly. There’s a lot of pollution on the beaches of Iceland, and we’re raising awareness about this, but this Is not really a declaration on our behalf, “he explains. “In a sense, we are recycling pollution in an artistic way.”
The rules they used were simple. They can only reuse beach trash to create art, and it’s incredible to see how complex props / trash can be.
“For example, I found an old plastic barrel reminiscent of Cairn in ancient Rome. And I recreated the Roman scenario in a buffet and put on a net that looked like a toga. In a way, it went to overconsumption. It’s an obvious reference to, “says Stefán. He also adds that it is a strange idea that hundreds or even thousands of years later, these same barrels will be exhibited like the ancient Cairns of today’s museums.
Three friends talked to publisher Bjartur and presented the idea of publishing a book with photos and thoughts about these trips. Bjartur jumped at that opportunity. This book is currently published and has 100 pages and is written in English.
Stephan explains that the book is more or less just a photograph, showing the title of the work and where each was taken. In addition, they are hosting an exhibition at Hafnartorg’s PopUp Gallery, reminiscent of Icelandic beach trash. While taking a walk, the artist picked up hundreds of PET bottles and made the throne from discarded plastic. Stephen, Oscar, and Frafunkel probably aren’t trying to make a political statement, but they can’t escape pollution and global disasters. Warming when observing their photobooks and installations.