A view from SIM residency © 2012 vytautas michelkevičius. All rights reserved.

Trying Out How Far Remoteness Can Be: Icelandic Case Study (IS1)

If you as an artist want to experience remoteness – Iceland is for sure the destination number one.

A view from SIM residency
A view from SIM residency

Firstly if you want to reach it from most Europeans cities you need to fly at least four hours. The alternative is a ferry which takes several days. Secondly in the Iceland you can find several rural residencies which are located 4-8 hours’ drive from Reykjavik.The most known is Skaftfell and NES. And there are much more coming out in the forthcoming years.

The route of Icelandic Remote Residencies
The main building of SIM with a gallery and guestrooms

My research trip on the remoteness in the Icelandic residencies started in Reykjavik at SIM residency.

SIM is Association of Icelandic Visual Artists. It has around 700 members (75% of them are women) and 200 studios for artists. Most of them are rented out for local artists. Next to them always 12-15 artists from abroad stays in guest studios as residency artists. That is the idea that arriving artists could get to know local artists and local scene could become more international.

One of the SIM Residency houses

I had a very nice tour by managing director Ingibjorg J. Gunnlaugsdottir through a four of five studio buildings. Each building has a different story and ambience.

Painter studio in SIM building
Shared Studio in SIM building
Studio with a bedroom


A view from the studio

Some of them are located in the downtown and some of them like Korpúlfsstaðir (former farm) in complete outskirts of the Reykjavik where you can see only mountains and fields around. Luckily the closest neighbour is Bauhaus shop where you can get a lot of materials for your artwork.

Residency located at the former farm from XIX century
Farm was turned into a nice studio building
Residency bedroom
Entrance hall into the building
Textile workshop

A view from the studio into golf course

Common dining room which is turned into cafeteria during open studios
Large exhibition space upstaris where hay was stored

SIM is also running a residency in Berlin for Icelandic artists.


On the to Remoteness

Second part of my trip was to experience NES residency located 260 km away from Reykjavik in a small village Skagaströnd with 500 inhabitants.

A random stop on the way
Only sheeps and mountains on the way to the north of Iceland

It took 4 to drive and the first two striking facts which I got to know upon arrival from the director Melody Woodnutt was that there is no public transport service to reach the village and out of 500 inhabitants there are 250 kids.

First shot after arrival: the studios are located right on the Arctic Ocean in a former fish factory

It feels really remote and must be striking for the artists from urban environments. You will find a wind from the ocean, one restaurant, a very small supermarket and a gasoline station. And there are no people outside.

Atmosphere of the village

During the first evening I saw only 3 kids and a guy passing by. My guess was that he is artist in residence here. Probably the only working public service at 9 pm was a small gasoline station which had a few tables inside with a few teenagers chatting and drinking cola.

A gasoline station
A map of the village
A view into the ocean

To tell the truth it is almost midnight but you can still read the book outside in the beginning of August.

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