8 June 2008
Skovbo Exhibit in Reykjavik, Iceland - …
Image Árni Sæberg.
© mbl.is/Árvakur hf.
It's not that often that Reykjavík gets a Hollywood star in town - and less often that the locals make a fuss about it. But Viggo Mortensen was in town last week to open his exhibition at the Reykjavík Museum of Photography - and the guy certainly pulled a crowd. Around 1600 people attended and all but a handful of his photographs were purchased during the exhibition opening alone.
The Danish-American is perhaps best known for his acting, having played Aragorn in Lord of the Rings and Nikolai in Eastern Promises (for which he was nominated for an Oscar), but is also a photographer, painter, poet and singer.
To be honest, I had only read about his photography and art and had somehow missed the fact that he was also one of Hollywood's most sought after actors until someone filled me in last week. But, the throngs of females at the opening event certainly knew who they were coming to see.
It was a strange experience to see in Reykjavik, where people supposedly don't get carried away with celebrities, the excitement which surrounded Mortensen and his exhibition. While Mortensen was signing copies of his photography books - and there was a long line of people waiting to meet him - there was a large group of women taking photos (and filming the event too, judging by the You Tube entries I stumbled across while researching his work) of what seemed like his every move. There were no less than four security guards, though, to ensure everything went smoothly.
Now, to his photographs, which is of course why I attended. Mortensen's exhibition, entitled Skovbo, which translates as Home in the Forest in Danish, consists of over 100 pictures - some black and white, some out of focus and almost all concerning nature, particularly trees. Some of the photos were taken in Iceland - others across Europe and the world including places like Morocco and New Zealand. The images are like dreams or memories - the light and shadows, the perspective of each combining to create ambience.
And while the photographer writes in his exhibition brochure that he is "[...] aware of the controversies surrounding the effects of industrialization on the Icelandic landscape," he prefers not to make a direct comment on the issue with Skovbo, but rather says that "The consequences of human interference with Nature speak for themselves." Mortensen manages to capture something as ordinary (for an Australian, at least) as a tree in an extraordinary and unique fashion. But for Icelanders trees are not something of the everyday landscape and Mortensen says that he "[...] brings mostly images of trees as a sort of gift from abroad because I know that there are not that many trees in Iceland."
The profits of the photographs (each on sale for ISK 30-40,000 or USD 390-520) are being donated to the Icelandic Conservation Association and those from his books to the Museum. Again, not a direct comment about environmentalism, but it's a strong message nonetheless.
Last edited: 10 August 2008 09:22:39