Memories of a Stateless State Pavilion
For decades the Icelandic Pavilion in Venice was artist-run. The government would pay the rent of the pavilion (which was actually the Finnish Pavilion, designed by Alvar Aalto, and originally built as temporary project for the Architecture Biennale in 1956), flight tickets, stay and maybe an exhibition leaflet. It was the artists who would take care of, and even finance, the rest – in-cluding production and transport of the piece and the building up and installing of it, most often with other artist friends. The maintenance of the pavilion during the Biennale would then be in-formally run by the staff of the Scandinavian Pavilion or of the Biennale itself (opening, closing, and cleaning).
In 2003 an Icelandic political representative was present at the opening of the Icelandic Pavilion for the first time. This means that – though the Ministry of Culture has radically increased its commitment to the participation of Icelandic artists at Venice Biennial since 2003, and the private sector has started contributed a bit too – throughout history, artists from Iceland, rather than the cultural, or political, authorities or institutions, have been the force maintaining and organizing the country’s participation in this huge international art event.Libia Castro and Ólafur Ólafsson