“There’s no comparison for Icelandic artists”
Icelandic artists are so free because of the country’s relatively short art history.
At least that’s how artist Sunneva Ása Weisshappel sees it, especially when comparing to other European countries such as France or Germany.
“I think because these countries have a long art history, there’s respect for artists they learn about it in school and they learn to respect art as a way to tell the story. Instead the culture here, we are so young, we have maybe art culture of 100 years, it’s not taught in schools, there’s less understanding. Artists are not comparing themselves, there’s nothing to compare to, that’s why we are so free to do whatever hasn’t been done before here.”
Sunneva, 28, has a background in fine art, mixed media, performance art, experimental forms and dance.
When we caught up with her she had just moved into her new studio space in Reykjavik after two years living and working abroad.
Talking about her new space, she said: “It hasn’t become anything yet, but it’s opportunities.”
“There’s a lack of support but artists always find opportunities.”
Before this space, Sunneva founded and managed another studio – Algera Studio – a workshop, art gallery and residency in Reykjavik.
“It became a strong movement for three years we had a lot of exhibitions and events, it was great, we could have a lot of space and do really big things, really big projects and we did it without support – money support – I worked night shifts, it was a good feeling, better than sitting in a room crying over the lack of support.”
She handed over the running of the studio to young artists to focus more on her own work than the organisational responsibilities of managing such a collective space.
After spending time in Europe and Berlin, the “city of artists, the city of weird”, Sunneva is back in her homeland keen to jump back into the art scene there and feeling as if Iceland is on the cusp of interesting and exciting artistic developments.
“I’m excited to see what is coming, I want to take part in it.”
“I am coming in here after two years in Europe, I’m just stepping in again. But the boundaries between cities are disappearing, I just grab the thread where I left it two years ago.”
Learn more about Sunneva here.
Words by Beth Cherryman