Queer art for everyone

Gallerí ’78 opened recently at the new location of Samtökin ’78 at Suðurgata 3, Reykjavík. The ongoing opening exhibition is called “HINSÝN! (a play with words, that might be translated as Queer-sight) which underlines the diversity of the 15 artists who have work on display; videos, photographs, paintings, embroidery and sculptures.

Today, On October 29th, at 20 – 23PM there will be a guided tour through the gallery and artist talk, conducted by the gallery’s curators, Ásdís Óladóttir, poet and art history student, and dr. Magnús Gestsson art historian. We asked Magnús a few questions about the exhibition.

Is there a theme for the exhibition?

Dr. Magnús Gestsson, art historian.

“Not really. Beside the fact we wanted to promote queer-art. Some artists are perhaps shy in promoting themselves so we purposefully selected a variety of artists so as to encourage them to work with those that have more experience. But no, there was no theme in resources or views, just that there would be as much variety as possible.”

How did you select the work?

“Me and my colleague, Ásdís Óladóttir, started by looking at those artists we knew. Although we did focus on their work and education, we also know that many artists have perhaps little formal schooling so we also looked at their works and exhibiting experience as well. We wanted to give as many as possible the chance to participate.”

Is Gallerí ’78 the first and only gallery in Iceland focusing on queer art?

“Yes that’s true. Of course queer artists have held exhibitions, both in cooperation with someone else or solo, but this is the first gallery with that specific aim, to show everybody how versatile queer art is in Iceland. When Samtökin ’78 moved to their new offices at Suðurgata, I saw a golden opportunity. The ground floor with its windows was a way to show everybody who walks by this versatility, not just the issues we are campaigning for. Of course that can be seen in between, but that is not the main issue, the main focus is to get people to come and see for themselves. It is just so important to show the diversity in the queer community.”

How long was the process until the gallery could be opened?

Ásdís Óladóttir, poet and student of art history.
Ásdís Óladóttir, poet and art history student.

“Early last year I contacted the then director of Samtökin ’78 to voice the possibility of using the ground floor of their new office as a gallery. I pointed out that we simply had to make Icelandic queer art more visible. I also talked to the chairman of Samtökin ’78 along with the board.

Last spring, me and Ásdís went ahead to find and contact potential artists. A week before the opening, we began preparing the show, which we did professionally and in an organized manner.

So there was a long, important but invisible process behind this opening, which was done in full cooperation with the director, chairman and board of Samtökin ’78.

The new director even came up with the name of the gallery, almost at the last second, which we liked and said yes! Just one of those wonderful cosmic coincidences.”

“…this is the first gallery with that specific aim, to show everybody how versatile queer art is in Iceland.

Have queer artists held other exhibitions together before in Iceland?

“Not that I know of, at least the concept of the gallery is completely new. Of course Samtökin ’78 have held exhibitions in their previous establishments through the years, both at Lindargata and Laugavegur. But they were perhaps not as publicized as the current one.”

There are already various exhibitions scheduled in the future. What can you tell us about them?

“The exhibitions are scheduled three years in advance. The aim is that the artists who are participating right now will have the opportunity to have solo exhibitions in that time, in order to keep up this encouraging atmosphere we are trying to create. In between those exhibitions, other artists who are not participating now, will show their work. I don’t want to give too much away but these are famous artists and have held exhibitions numerous times all around.

We aim to keep this going after the three years – to make our artists more visible and show their diversity – and always keep some sort of dialogue going.”

Artists currently displaying their work at Gallerí ’78

“Phallus and the binary bible,” by artist Hafsteinn Himinljómi.

Alda Lilja

Alda Villiljós
(Top photos by Alda Lilja and Alda Villiljós)

Anna S. Sigurjónsdóttir,

Bára K Kristinsdóttir,

Hafsteinn Himinljómi

Heiða Björg Valladóttir

Hrafnkell Sigurðsson

Karla Dögg Karlsdóttir

Kristín Hauksdóttir

Lói Magnúsd


Sonja Georgsdóttir

Sólrún Jónsdóttir

Sólrún T. Auðunsdóttir

Móði (Þormóður Karlsson)

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