By Kirstine Schiess Højmose, Fotografisk Center
NORDIC EXCHANGE – INNER AND OUTER LANDSCAPES
Artist presentation: Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson
In August 2014 Fotografisk Center will present the exhibition Nordic Exchange – Inner and Outer Landscapes showing five young Nordic artists working with photography: Tonje Bøe Birkeland (Norway), Anni Leppälä (Finland), Johan Bergström (Sweden), Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson (Iceland) and Ditte Knus Tønnesen (Denmark).
The exhibition is the first project in Fotografisk Center’s newly started network Nordic Exchange – a network made to help facilitate exhibitions, collaborations and exchanges between young artists working with photography.
For more info on exhibition and network have a look at this previous blog post: https://blog.photography.dk/2014/02/08/nordiske-udvekslinger-indre-og-ydre-landskaber-nordic-exchange-inner-and-outer-landscapes/
Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson
Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1981. He graduated from The Icelandic Academy of Visual Art in 2007. For more info: http://ihragnarsson.com
Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson’s artistic practice is situated somewhere in between art photography and documentary – often with a documentary view as starting point and the artistic way of looking at things and creating images as the result.
He has worked a lot with how the economical and social changes before and after the financial crisis have affected the Icelandic landscape – in both nature sites and in the cities. The economical boom in Iceland made a huge impact on nature as the city of Reykjavik began to take over nature sites for constructions. Ragnarsson captures this clash between nature and city in his pictures where grey concrete meets the brown and green colours of the rough Icelandic nature.
His images are often emptied of human physical presence just showing the landscapes and sites constructed by humans in all its mess and glory. His work is not moralising or strictly political just posing some questions making us reflect on how we treat landscapes – nature’s as well as the urban landscape.
Alongside his aristic production Ingvar Högni runs an artist book store called Útúrdúr in Reykjavik and works as a more commericial photographer.
A sample of Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson’s work:
Iceland has gone through some drastic changes in the last decade, politically and economically. Iceland saw an economic boom that followed with a collapse of the banking system and the “Household revolution”. In the times of economic prosperity Reykjavik developed in to a city that was waiting for something to happen. The growth of the city correlated to the wast amounts of capital that was generated trough borrowed capital. The illusion of prosperity was transferred to changes in the urban landscape. What followed was a collapse of a nation’s internal structure and financial system. The crises that followed came with an earring sensation of anger and despair but at the same time a feeling of status quo, no one took responsibility. We were all waiting for something, no one was to blame and therefore no one takes responsibility. The state of things in Iceland is that nobody knows how it will turn out when it finally wakes up. While the city is waiting it is starting to slowly decade and loose its character and has expanded as never before. Where there once was nature now stands half finished houses, empty and waiting as the nation itself.
These series are photographed from 2004-2013.
‘The wall’ (2008)
“The Wall” is a series that was made during a one-year documentation of a wall surrounding a construction site in downtown Reykjavík. The construction area was meant to be used for cheap apartments for young people in Reykjavík but has stood empty and undisturbed since the economic crises in Iceland. The one-year documentation process was thought of as a social documentation experiment to witness the reaction of political, social and economical changes that were taking place in Iceland after the household revolution. An empty wall in a revolutionary social mindset could be looked at like an empty canvas for social communication. During the one-year of documentation some messages got expressed but for the most part the wall stayed untouched and slowly got integrated to the urban landscape. The public space is losing its importance in political communication and the virtual space and social networks are the new walls for revolutionary idea spreading and social interaction.
I have walked this street and documented this house since 2006 and it is ever changing yet always stays the same. Hverfisgata is for me like the Icelandic society, it changes the exterior of things but never the interior that comes with fundamental changes that reshape the order of things. The rapid changes in the urban exteriors can give an illusion of progress and functionality of a space, in this case a house on Hverfisgata.
/ All images: copyright Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson