April 13, 2016

"In Iceland, there’s this idea that we don’t really belong in the world, this country in the middle of the ocean and so far from other countries."

"What I love about Iceland is that the only people we admire are poets. There are no great conquerors or heroes, no great industrial tycoons or politicians, and no respect for businesspeople or material wealth. Many of our sagas are about outlaws—there is even a statue of the Outlaw in Reykjavík, next to the National Museum—and the idea of the outlaw here is similar to the idea of the artist. I think making art comes from being a little allergic to society, not wanting to belong."

Said Ragnar Kjartansson, quoted in "Play It Again/How Ragnar Kjartansson turns repetition into art" in The New Yorker.

ADDED: After the Panama Papers, in Iceland, they threw eggs and bananas at Parliament:

18 comments:

Michael P said...

Eric the Red and Leif Ericsson? Jon Sigursson? More recently, the Panama Papers?

tim maguire said...

Well...I have a good friend who is from Iceland and according to him, the reason they don't admire businessmen or politicians or wealth is that the economy is built around fishing and the fishing rights are locked up by 10 families. Everyone else is poor.

Phil 3:14 said...

Iceland is so cool!

Henry said...

Fun article. Calvin Tomkins' biography of Duchamp was a drag, mainly because of Duchamp; he is at his best at profiling the artist as comic. Kjartansson seems to be in the same family as Rauschenberg, another Tomkins' favorite. My takeaway:

He got a job with a Reykjavík advertising firm called Ennemm, and spent the next four years there. “I looked on it as my master’s degree in art,” he said. “You use all the techniques of art, except that you’re lying.”

Lying is one of the techniques of art.

Sebastian said...

I see. Right. That must be why they declined bailouts by the British and Dutch governments when their banks had overextended themselves in the run-up to the Great Recession. Not.

They don't belong to the world until they need the world. In other words, a bunch of free fishers.

jaydub said...

"There are no great conquerors or heroes, no great industrial tycoons or politicians, and no respect for businesspeople or material wealth." Well, that has much to do with the fact that alcohol and achievement do not mix well.

Curious George said...

I think of Iceland as a bunch of gearheads.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oeJjzdlTuI



traditionalguy said...

Outlaw life can be fun if you are the outlaw. But where are the fun loving African American outlaws. That place looks as white bread as Janesville, Wisconsin.

David said...

How sweet. Of course they totally trashed their banking system with highly risky arbitrage transactions before the 2008 Crisis. All of their major banks failed and the IMF had to bail them out. As did the Brits, Americans and Dutch. Iceland basically completely destroyed itself economically and that distant strange world out there saved their smug cold asses. Corruption and stupidity were the main causes. And maybe the pickled ram testicles that they sometimes eat.

Karen of Texas said...

Well, when you live atop a volcano...

Daughter stopped over for several days on her way home from England. The photos she took - beautiful place. Surreal landscape.

Gabriel said...

Eric the Red and Leif Ericsson?

Not to mention Eric Bloodaxe. Wonder what he was famous for. Probably not twee lyrics.

Gabriel said...

@David:Of course they totally trashed their banking system with highly risky arbitrage transactions before the 2008 Crisis.

Essentially they were enacting the scene in Dumb and Dumber when the two main characters have large chests full of each other's mutual IOUs, which run into the millions.

Michael P said...

My comment about the Panama Papers was mostly because their head of government got grouped (rightly or wrongly) with third-world despots, and didn't come across as someone who idolizes only poets and natural beauty.

Artists often make that kind of silly generalization, ones that are almost self-refuting. I didn't think anyone took such declarations seriously.

Curious George said...

"Karen of Texas said...
Daughter stopped over for several days on her way home from England. The photos she took - beautiful place. Surreal landscape."

Apollo astronauts trained there...closest we have on earth to the moon.

Jason said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDbPYoaAiyc

There's definitely no logic to human behavior.

Terry said...

More people live in Omaha than live in Iceland. Iceland seems less exotic and cosmopolitan when you look at it that way.

Terry said...

I am pretty sure the people of Iceland are less diverse and more inbred than the people of Omaha as well.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Well he's got the same name as History Channel's Vikings Lothbrok, and that guy was no exemplar of civil institutions, either.

And yet, I don't think he was all that uncivilized.

The Icelanders have it right. Interesting take on how they view their isolation geographically, too.