“You can open an art space on a pin”
“I’ve always been fascinated by artists claiming space and creating venues. I saw nothing was too small or inconvenient for a creative art space or art venue, like a Mary Poppins’ bag it seems the possibilities are endless once you’ve opened it.”
Freyja Eilif, 30, a visual artist, has been running a space in the basement of her grandmother’s home in Reykjavik for the past three years.
“After I graduated from the Academy I was really focusing on finding my way to do it [run a space], I had a lot of ideas and I was open to a lot of possibilities but then I was living in a squat near to here and I realised the biggest opportunity was in front of my eyes the whole time. This is my grandmother’s house.”
“The space has grown and changed a lot since Ekkisens Art Space was founded, it’s now relatively white and nowhere near a neutral space – that’s also what I’m very happy about.”
“I like the idea of people entering the basement not knowing what to find there, it’s not curated, it’s artists just showing their work and they can do what they like. People are being invited to the grassroots.”
Freyja mostly shows young artists in their early career at Ekkisens and the space has developed somewhat into a scene of its own, but she feels there is a lack of experimental spaces in Reykjavik.
“I think if there were better opportunities there would be a lot more spaces and artists gathering to rent a space, run a venue or something like that but of course now there are high rentals and somehow a shortage of spaces.”
“A lot of work goes into running a space, which you do for no money, but it still costs time and money, so you need a very cheap place or to squat a place. If you want to do something experimental and it’s not about sales then it’s quite impossible to rent in the centre, but people do find the opportunities, they see the opportunities.”
She argues art should feature more in the education system of Iceland and take more prominence in the social discussion to help people be more open to supporting artists and artist run spaces and enable everyone to take the power to create if they want to.
But Freyja added: “Reykjavik probably does have a very strong art scene compared to size, population and also isolation but I would like to see more experimental spaces.”
You can learn more about Freyja and Ekkisens here.
Words by Beth Cherryman