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Iceland Before the Humanist Conference

Friday, May 31, 2019 7:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

I enjoy traveling by myself.  Moving through the world at my own pace.  Deceiding what I will do next with minimal negotiation.  Traveling becomes a contemplative experience played out in the unfamiliar.

I have been let loose in Reykjavik since Tuesday morning.  I thought that a four-hour time difference would not amount to much, yet I am having trouble sleeping at the right times.  I spend my time wandering about and drifting into random museums and restaurants.

I find it interesting when the English word for a country differs greatly from the native name.  I may be wrong about this in this case but the art museum was called “Listasafn Islands - National Gallery of Iceland”.  Googling “Listasafn Islands” only produces pages in Icelandic so I have more research to do.

The museum displayed interesting historical and contemporary Icelandic art.  There was a special exhibit about an Icelandic video artist Stenia Vasulka and her Moravian husband Woody.  After meeting in Europe and working there for a while, they relocated to New York City where they opened “The Kitchen”, a performance space in a hotel basement in 1971 (The Kitchen still exists, albeit in a different location – my daughter Madeline won a modern dance lighting design Obie award for a show that was in this space).  The Vasulkas eventually moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where their work continues.  I spent two hours absorbing various video snippets, everything from a Filmore East montage including Jimi Hendrix and Jethro Tull, to the artists talking about the meaning and purpose of art.  Artists talking about their Art and Musicians talking their music fascinate me.

I am told that I am experiencing unusually favorable weather – cool crisp blue skies.  The city is beautiful.  It has its own unique domestic architecture with a welcome lack of reflective glass tall buildings.

Yesterday I did the tourist bit and visited the Blue Lagoon.  The creativity involved in turning the hot water run-off from a geo-thermal power plant into a tourist spa shows some ingenuity.  It was worth going - though I did not stay long.

After a few days of roaming about without successfully engaging in much conversation with any of the locals, I was pleased to meet a local musician, Teitur Magnusson, at a café over breakfast.  I showed him my daughter Alicia’s Band (A Different Thread) YouTube channel and got a suggestion where I could go to hear some local music.  Our conversation ranged from about music to the fate of the world. I bought his CD.

The Humanists International Conference starts this afternoon.  I will switch gears and become social.  I’m looking forward to it.


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