The exhibition NORMALITY IS THE NEW AVANT-GARDE considers manifestations of the everyday in Icelandic contemporary art. The objective of the show is to establish conceptual and visual connections between works by artists of different generations – who nonetheless share the attribute of alluding to and working with the broad semiotics of the everyday. This approach is based in the proposition that interfaces may be found between art of the 1990s and works from recent years, which may be brought into view by considering the works in the light of contemporary ideas of the everyday.

The exhibition does not attempt to be a conventional overview of a specific aspect of art history – as in this case the distinction between the generations is not clearly defined, and the art of the younger and older artists featured in the show overlaps in time. In addition some of the pieces pre-date 1990, reflecting the shift that took place in Icelandic art in the 1970s. Finally, it is debatable to maintain that the exhibition is concerned with "Icelandic contemporary art,“ since about half the artists featured live and work mostly abroad. This all serves to show the complexity of the historiography of modern art – while also describing the contemporary period explored by the exhibition.

The exhibition explores the everyday from the perspective of eleven artists, a common feature of whose art is that they create works that arise from the materials and conditions of the everyday – each in his/her own way, whether in conceptual, visual or spatial terms. In this context the concept of the “everyday” has no implication of being unremarkable or insignificant. On the contrary, the works in this exhibition are poetic in nature; they throw light on the aesthetics of objects, underlining the circumstances of the everyday, and imbuing the ordinary with new meaning by placing it in a new and unexpected context. In this way the works raise questions about the meaning of the everyday and the ordinary in the present times. They express an unambiguous creative approach to the everyday, that reveals admiration for that which is extraordinarily ordinary.

Most of the works in the exhibition are owned by the artists themselves, while others have been kindly lent by Icelandic collections. Many of them have not been exhibited in Iceland before, while others reappear here after many years. A few works have been commissioned specifically for this exhibition: on the one hand new, site-specific pieces made for the exhibition space of Gerðarsafn; and on the other hand works which were no longer in a condition to be exhibited and have been recreated. It is fitting that this exhibition should take place at the Kópavogur Art Museum – Gerðarsafn, which opened in the mid-1990s, and typifies that period in its style and architecture. Today the museum is one of Iceland's leading contemporary art museums, and hence it is an appropriate setting for this project, which embraces the period from then until now.

Artists: Anna Hrund Másdóttir, Arna Óttarsdóttir, Arnfinnur Amazeen, Emma Heiðarsdóttir, Finnur Arnar Arnarson, G.Erla - Guðrún Erla Geirsdóttir, Guðrún Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir, Loji Höskuldsson, Sólveig Aðalsteinsdóttir, Sveinn Fannar Jóhannsson, Þorvaldur Þorsteinsson.

Curator: Heiðar Kári Rannversson.

Photo above: Anna Hrund Másdóttir, Sponge Cake, 2016.  Photo below: Sveinn Fannar Jóhannsson, Mirrors with Shelves, 2008 & Fragmentary Pieces of Intelligence, 2011.