Morgunbladid, Island, 18. april 2001 - (review)


The exhibition “Here, There and Everywhere” by Erla Haraldsdottir and Bo Melin concerns itself with the possible and the impossible in our environment. We are accustomed to watching films and sometimes become bewildered by the changes in an environment, so that our sense of the real location goes awry. This way a street in the west-end of town can become the surroundings for a house located in the east end of town. The inside of the house need not correspond to the outside. For some this is so awkward that it becomes an intolerable confusion of facts, especially if you are familiar with the particular circumstances. For a long time, Icelanders, for instance, could not accept the fact that in the movies a car could be driving down a street in the west-end, only to be seen turning onto a street in a different area altogether, something that for a stranger to the city of Reykjavik, would seem perfectly normal. New Yorkers probably have a similar problem accepting that films supposedly taking place in New York are made on location in Toronto, Canada, because this means less costs for the production companies.


Erla Haraldsdottir has lived in Sweden since the age of ten, with exception of her early college years. She studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm, The San Francisco Art Institute and the Valand Art Academy in Gothenburg, where she graduated in 1998. Bo Melin, on the other hand, is a born and bred in Sweden. He studied at the Konstfack Art Academy in Stockholm and the Valand Art Academy in Gothenburg, where he graduated in 1997.


Their exhibition in is based on sneaking elements from San Francisco and Berlin into panoramic pictures of well-known streets of Reykjavik, Iceland. In this way they have created a perspective that is unfamiliar, but under familiar circumstances. For instance with the fruit and veg shop on a well-known Reykjavik corner where no such shop is to be found, or the signs with Asian writing and foreign faces in the crowds that somehow differ from the usual mixture of people in the capital.


Tricks like these are familiar to TV viewers who recently witnessed the dream-vision of Hrafn Gunnlaugsson (Icelandic film director) where houses and green areas of the city had undergone dramatic changes. Erla and Melin however adopt more subtle methods in their changes and it sometimes takes time to discover them. Unlike their recent project Skoghall, where they changed a friendly looking Swedish small-town into the rundown suburb of a large city, their changes to Reykjavik contribute to a debate, with a view of Reykjavik City Centre with an increased multicultural street-life. Isn’t a more colourful street-life what we miss most of all in our city centre? In a part of the world where the cold weather inhibits a relaxed communication on the streets, there is a restless longing for the kind of weather found in more exotic parts of the world. The photographs of Erla Haraldsdottir and Bo Melin are a brilliant contribution to the debate of how we would like the community and the life on the streets and squares of Reykjavik to develop. In response to this interesting and well-presented suggestion, all we need is the contribution of the city planning experts as to how the city life of Iceland can be developed in a slightly more human and colourful way with the aid of (ylstraeta and vermireita /hot spots ??). It’s not as if we lack the hot water ??


Text: Halldór Björn Runólfsson, art critic

Translation: Hrafnhildur Halldorsdottir