The Reykjavík Arts Festival kicked off this weekend. This year it focuses on “contemporary art”.

EPI and YT checked out some of it.

First stop, the Dieter Roth exhibition at the Reykjavík Art Museum, where the late Mr Roth’s floorboards are hung on the walls, along with a bunch of his doodle papers and such.

Next stop, the National Gallery of Iceland, where a bunch of his garbage and things have been put up as installations. Also where there are artworks composed of substances such as buttermilk poured onto paper and covered with plastic and allowed to go mouldy for 30 years. There was also a particularly lovely work made of bananas wrapped in a long sheet and then squished. The sheet had then been rolled out, so the brown colour the bananas had predictably turned sort of tapered off to a point. It looked uncannily as though someone with diarrhoea had sat on the sheet and then scraped his ass along it for some distance. There was also a series of boxes containing matter in various stages of long, drawn-out decay [foodstuffs from 30 years ago, no longer discernible] and a whole bunch of identical dog sculptures made of chocolate [also 30 years ago and smelling vile], arranged together on shelves.

Whilst the cultural elite hovered around discussing the deep, symbolic meaning of decaying food stuck in a box and hung up on a wall, a feeling of intense nausea began to creep up on our YT. Meanwhile EPI, being a fine arts graduate, was examining the whole putrid mess with what appeared to be substantial interest.

YT: [leaning over to EPI, quietly] Er, the smell in here…
EPI: Mmm….
YT: I’m starting to feel sick.
EPI: Oh. Yeah. M-hm. Really?
YT: I think I have to leave.
EPI: He used bananas hahaha!

YT is not a queasy sort of person. In fact, during my pregnancy I only vomited once [in the middle of a supermarket, oops], and I can even watch an entire episode of ER while eating dinner, without flinching. [EPI, meanwhile, can have NO TALK of a) blood, b) insects, c) excrement, d) garbage, while eating.] I even saw that Body Worlds exhibition in London a few years ago; breezed through that one like nobody’s business. However, this particular decaying food exhibition made me so profoundly ill that I had to exit the premises pronto. And as if that weren’t enough, the nausea relentlessly persisted for the remainder of the afternoon.

That evening, as EPI and I were vegetating on the sofa after a surprisingly satisfying dinner [in view of the afternoon’s misadventures], we caught a live broadcast of the official opening festivities. Down at the Reykjavík Art Museum, a ‘performance piece’ [of sorts], had a ‘woman’ [of sorts], with a ‘bare breast’ [of sorts], squeezing that breast and squirting ‘milk’ [of sorts] onto the Plexiglas banister of the balcony on which she was situated. She then proceeded to act out a scenario that was utterly diabolical, with loads of antichrist imagery and such. Like so:

Meanwhile, the Akureyri art museum was featuring the premiere of a new film by one Matthew Barney, whom the gallery has dubbed a visual arts ‘superstar’ but who is better known around these parts for being Björk’s main squeeze. He is also the creator of outlandishly bizarre and icky-creepy wordless films, a clip of which we were treated to during this particular Saturday evening family viewing hour. In it, a naked guy had two large onions protruding from his mouth and his anus, respectively, and was rubbing his naked dick repeatedly against a giant woodworking lathe that spun in very fast circles. [CHILDREN! DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!] And all at a very peculiar angle, I might add, for it was as though he was hanging upside down, the camera hovering just above his balls.

Exhibiting with him was Björk’s gal-pal Gabríela Friðriksdóttir. Her particular offering was called Operazione Oesophagus [Operation on the Oesophagus] and what it entailed was – among other things – a lovely video installation with a close-up of someone eating a slimy, bloody organ type of thing, sticking his/her fingers into his/her mouth and slurping greedily, with blood running down his/her face. Yum.

And so. The question of the day. “If it makes you want to puke, is it good art?” Discuss!

Not as fantabulous as yesterday, but extremely pleasant nonetheless. Highs of 10°C and intermittent sunny spells. In fact, one loooonng intermittent sunny spell this afternoon, during which AAH, Polly and YT soaked up rays on the balcony. Apart from that, house cleaning was the order of the day. Daybreak was at 02.22 and nightfall 24.34.

[PS As loyal readers will know, I’ve been having some problems with Haloscan – it’s not been notifying me of new comments. So if you’ve added comments to olders posts and you’ve perhaps asked me a question, and I haven’t responded, please be advised that this is why.]