Since 2012, Reitir has annually invited 30 people from around the world to Siglufjördur to participate in an experimental approach to the traditional art workshop. Reitir includes young professionals from all around the world with all sorts of expertise to the northern part of Iceland to collaborate on innovative works that address the town of Siglufjördur, in one way or another. The aim of Reitir is to be an active and critical part of Siglufjörður’s development by creating a platform for innovation and critical thinking through interdisciplinary cooperation. Reitir is hosted by Alþýðuhúsið, the workshop and home of artist Aðalheiður S. Eysteinsdóttir.
Think local, as the whole project is about Siglufjörður. Participants arrive without preconceived ideas of what to produce and how. The process starts upon arrival when all 30 people involved meet, by most parts for the first time. The project is split in two parts, the first three days are devoted to research and concept development that includes walks, visits and group work. The seven days that follow are devoted to production and realisation of works.
Siglufjörður as the subject
As mentioned earlier, Siglufjörður is the topic of investigation. All works reflect in some way upon the town, may that be the history, geography, unused areas, social landscape or something a lot more obscure. The approach and the type of collaboration used is entirely up to each participant. This structure enables a great diversity in terms of what is produced and gives room for the unexpected and challenging. So far, participants have worked with performance, book work, website, sculpture, installation, sound work, graphics, typography and video work that has been interactive, socially engaging, political, convivial and critical in nature.
Workflow and self-criticism
The open-ended nature of Reitir offers participants to directly shape the project. Each year’s approach and outcome shape the overall idea by giving participants the responsibility to develop and realise their concepts. The first three days are completely programmed with visits, walks and events organised by the project leaders. In the latter seven days, participants are on their own. They decide what project will be produced, how and by who. The project leaders will be there to assist and give feedback if needed, otherwise it is entirely up to the participants to do the rest.
Diversity of participants
Each year Reitir invites around 30 individuals to join, ⅔ from abroad and ⅓ from Iceland. The group is handpicked and there is emphasis on diversity of expertise and experience. Interdisciplinary is important to the project as it gives room for unexpected developments and brings more varied knowledge into the group. Participants are mainly from the fields of art, design and science.
Engaging the locality
The works at Reitir are placed in the public space and have a social responsibility, towards the location and towards the people in the town. The workflow includes methods that allow participants to directly talk to people in the town. Every year new methods are included to further develop the workflow of the project.
The residents of Siglufjörður are generally open and helpful and various companies and organisations in town offer a variety of useful services and opportunities, for the benefit of Reitir. Using local resources in this way has proven valuable as the works become unique to the locality.
Cooperation with local institutions and industry
The projects further development is dependent on a convivial and open relationship with the town’s officials, shops, museums and other businesses. Reitir is a annual event that puts emphasis on communication and transparency towards our hosting town. The projects’ leaders and town officials meet in beginning of every year to discuss new ideas, further growth and define the communication frame work. Smaller companies in the town have supported the project with donation of food, space, helpers, material and financially. This support does not only have good impact on the projects economy, but also confirms the towns approval and gratification.
Importance and context
Siglufjörðurs economy has over the last 10 years been transitioning away from production and towards
tourism and culture. This has been largely supported by a the art and culture scene, examples of which are: the Folk Music Festival, The Herring Era Museum and The Icelandic Poetry Centre. Reitir plays a part in this transformation by participants reviewing Siglufjörður through their respective fields of expertise, thereby producing relevant work to the towns inhabitants. Works produced at Reitir become relevant to the town by discovering possibilities, testing solutions and producing experiments with no long-term commitment, as all the works are temporary. Reitir gives participants the opportunity to experiment and develop their professions, with an emphasis on fun, creative and visible partnership, and in the process, provides a new perspective on the town to residents.