1-30 september 2017

Cycle – Sovereign | Colony (CSC) is a transdisciplinary art-project that focuses on process, experimentation, and social engagement. It is an international collaboration that centres around Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland and these countries' historical and current relations with Denmark. 

CSC constitutes the first phase of the festival's three-year vision, which is based around the upcoming centenary of Icelandic sovereignty. Over three weeks in September 2017, Kópavogur Art Museum will be ‘colonised' via a programme of workshops, residencies, talks, film screenings, communal dinners, concerts, role-playing events, performances and art exhibitions. The event will serve as an incubator for collaborations and a platform for the public, civil society, artists and scholars to exchange knowledge and experiences on equal terms. The aim is to nurture encounters and inspirations that will feed into the production of new artwork which will be exhibited in the W-Nordic area during the centenary-year.

In 1918 Iceland was granted full sovereignty in its union with The Kingdom of Denmark, a union that was subsequently broken by the founding of the Icelandic republic in 1944. This event marked the beginning of a long process of de-colonisation in the area as the three nations of Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland have, at different moments in history, sought and gained increasing independence from Denmark. This process still underwrites W-Nordic politics. In the Faroes, a referendum on whether the country should have its own constitution is planned to take place in April 2018. In Greenland, the government recently appointed their first independence minister and is also aiming to have a constitution drawn up within the next few years. It is safe to say that issues of sovereignty are shared and actual in this context.

The project is not based on a political alignment with regards to the question of independence but rather that question's actuality for culture and identity in the region. This actuality forms an interesting counterpoint to developments in world politics where, in a profoundly different context, people are increasingly rallying around sovereignty and national identity. Led by nationalist populist parties, those developments are largely seen as an outcome of a crisis of democracy. As traditional party-politics have ceased to move people's hearts and minds - the emotional message of nationalists is winning some over whilst sprouting seeds that profoundly divide human societies.

The current dynamics around sovereignty in the area could present a unique opportunity to adapt visionary positions on cultural identity and the concept of independence in a connected world. The project will seize this opportunity and probe the meaning of the Icelandic centenary for today's W-Nordic societies from the perspectives of intercultural empathy, equality, national identity, global connectedness, de-colonisation, and digital placelessness.

Artists can play a unique role in providing critical reflection, visions and new imaginaries for societies as they move towards the future. They are also experts at evoking emotion and creating understanding beyond, or stretching, the potential of language. In this light, artistic practice has remarkable potential to revitalise and reinvent the democratic sphere of societies. In addition, creative expression lies at the heart of democratic society where everyone has to be able to express themselves. Thus, the project will push art's democratic potential and strive to create synergies between professional artists and other agents of creative expression in our already multicultural societies.