In June 2018 Justin Armstrong, a teacher at Welleslay Collage in Boston, brought his cultural anthropology field course to Ísafjörður as he had done for some years. When he looked outside the hotel window he noticed our museum that hadn’t been there in his previous visits. He emailed us, saying: “I teach a course called The Magic of Everyday Life! And I’m here with a group of my students! And we’re anthropologists! We need to meet!”
We were of course thrilled and the next day he brought his students for a visit and we made plans to collaborate on his return the following summer. We arranged visits for eight students with local residents where they spent an afternoon to learn about the magic of everyday life in the Westfjords.
The students processed the experience, using the anthropological tool-kit, and created a beautiful, creative and insightful exhibition in our Guestroom.
My favorite drink is coffee. But I always drink my coffee from this mug. See? You put the coffee in here. Just like this. When you take the top off and your tea or coffee is ready, you can take the strainer out and put it on the lid on the table so that it doesn’t leak. It is 30 years old. I got it in Sweden. I am the only one who drinks from this mug. Three years ago my husband picked up a tourist in very bad weather so he phoned home to ask if the man could sleep in our house. I said okay. But the next morning the tourist woke up before I was awake and made himself coffee in this cup! I was so angry. I said I couldn’t drive him to Ísafjörður now. You can’t drink coffee from this! So I was really mad because he didn’t know me and he made coffee and drank coffee before I woke up!
It is an intimate dialouge between guest and host, visitor and local, and anthropologist and informant. As it says in the exhibition description, „it‘s where the the magic of everyday life bubbles up as the strange familiar and the familiar strange to create a truly unique cross-cultural understanding of the importance of anthropology and everyday life“
What are the materials that we want to see exist in the future? What are the materials that we don‘t want to see exist any longer? And can we imagine materials for our clothing or technologies that biodegrade over time?
Those are the questions Fine Brendtner asked on The World Oceans Day on the 8th of june in her workshop on bioplastics cooking and exhibition called „Future Fossils“ in our guestroom.
“I‘m interested in materiality and my thesis deals among other things with the materiality of ocean water. I read of bioplastics in an open source book called The 3D Additivist Cookbook made by a group of artists who are all activists, it‘s all about the critiques of technology an speculative ideas of the future”
Fine has a background in art and a degree in anthropology, and as a way to combine those to aspects she decided to do her masters in visual anthropology. She found her way to the University Center of the Westfjords through her interest in ocean health and science communication.
“I’m interested in the idea of science communication because there are so many ways of of engaging with it and with environmental issues. That‘s also why I‘m studying visual anthropology and the reason why I came to the University center. I wanted to try to find an artistic way of engaging with the topic”
She invited participants at the workshop to set an intention for themselves concerning the issue and to pour their intention into the artefact that they were making.
“I said for example “I will loose my addiction to plastic products”. It‘s the Pacific islander’s idea of mana, that certain objects can hold intentions and power and then the power of intention potentiates in the world and creates a stronger power, so the idea was that we could do this as a ritual and just perpetuate our thoughts and individual behaviour towards this materials that we use in our everyday life and just think about them a bit more consciously”
The visual artist, Imogen Higgins is the first one to exhibit her work in our newly renovated space we simply call “The guestroom”. She traveled from Cardiff, Wales to Ísafjörður to work on her ideas in ArtsIceland residency for a couple of weeks. Her work consists of captivating prints made from natural ingredients from the area and photographs that capture a rather humorous and carnivalesque exploration of human connection to the natural world.