Interview for an article on nordic performance art

by Johan Jacobsson.

Published in Stockholms Fria January 9, 2010.

1. You’ve been making art together since 1996. If you compare the

Icelandic performance art scene of 1996 with the one existing now;

would you say that the one existing now is better? Are there more

places in which to perform, are more people interested in your art?

Sequences is a new art festival here in Reykjavik that focuses on performance and time based art. This fall the fourth festival was really full of interesting things, both icelandic and foreign artists. And also there seems to be something interesting happening now, that the Academy of Arts has helped the disciplines mix more. Visual arts and theatre studies and design and music... I think that there is definitely something cooking.  But it is also interesting to look to the past. To the early days of The Living Art Museum and to the early eighties when punk ideology was strong.  Now is always the best time, but it is good to have an eye in the back of the head. 

2.Do you feel positive about the future for the Icelandic performance

art scene? Are there lots of up-and-coming artists in Iceland at the

moment? Do young Icelandic people seem to have an interest in

performance art?

There is a general interest in performance art everywhere at the moment.  The form seems to be going through some kind of revival. Powerful institutions are also focusing on performance art, such as the MoMA in New York, and looking into its impact and place in art history. Since this is such an ephemeral form it has not been collected in the same way as other art works. Now different people and institutions are discussing how performance art can be preserved. Also all sorts of unlikely people are all of a sudden doing performance. I hope that this is not just a fashion trend or some kind of pressure of entertainment. That this is real and substantial.

I think this has to do with this strong feeling of being there. Now that all this media and technology has become so accessible and easy, people feel like really being there and experiencing this un-documentable magic of live performance art, that is crude an un-rehearsed and very human.

3. You’ve made art in some quite “Nordic” contexts, the recent “Live

Action New York 09” event is one example. Do you feel camaraderie with

other Nordic performance artists? Are there a certain Nordic outlook

to performance art, would you say? Or are events like “Live Action New

York 09” merely superficial, a loose grouping of artists with only

geography in common?

Yes I think there is a certain "idea" or perhaps a cliche sort of feeling that people feel in their body when you say the words "nordic performance art".  I don't know exactly how to describe it. But cliches are built from something. But in all reality nordic performance art is very connected with european and north american performance art. We are a part of a bigger picture.

I think that when The Icelandic Love Corporation started doing performance in the beginning of our career we were both intrigued and disgusted by this cliche. And we chose to make fun of it in some way, but at the same time we were being absolutely sincere. We have tried to keep this interesting dualism of irony and sincerity in our work.

The nordic countries share a lot, certain values and certain dysfunctionality as well. I think that nordic co-operation should be encouraged. Neighbors should work together, which of course doesn't mean that they should become secluded or arrogant.