Interview I did with the Icelandic artist Rúrí early spring 2005.
Rúrí represented Iceland at the 50th Venice Biennale 2003 with the multimedia installation Archive - endangered waters. The work is finally displayed in Reykjavík at the National Gallery of Iceland, and will be until the 13th of March.
The work contains 52 waterfalls that we have almost lost, have lost or will lose through dam building. Rúrí has recorded the voice of each waterfall and when you pull out the image from the archive the waterfall speaks to you.
BJ: What was the inspiration for the show Archive – endangered waters?
Rúrí: “Nature without doubt. I respect nature deeply, I connect with her. Whenever we do something to her, it affects all of us. Each nation has the duty to treat their environment and nature with full responsibility and respect. This planet and its whole biosphere is our joint responsibility.
There is an extra dimension to our planet that most Icelanders are not aware of because of the abundance of water we have. It is the fact that water has become the blue gold on our planet. Pure water is a very fragile aspect of the planet’s biosphere. If the mentality of power and greed is put aside then it becomes clear what really matters; water and nourishment, not oil.”
BJ: What sort of reactions has the exhibition gotten?
Rúrí: “I have never experienced as much warmth and kindness at an opening of my work before. It was as if the child within came bursting out in people when they got in touch with the artwork. People often feel joy around water, perhaps the sounds from the waterfalls opened a space for that in them.
I have also heard that people in France cried at the exhibition when they realized what the work was telling them, that most of these waterfalls will be no more.”
When asked what is ahead for her, she said, “I am preparing work that will be a part of a new sculpture-garden in the mountainsides of Vesuvius, Italy. I am also working on two sculptures that I have been commissioned to do for a museum in Germany.”
Some artists have a unique access to the collective consciousness and their work speaks to everyone because it contains levels of truth and vision we all can relate to. Rúrí’s works have a mythological sense to them. She is a modern mythmaker.
In works like The Gate, a memorial for missing persons, The Rainbow at the Leif Eriksson Air Terminal in Keflavík, the Glassrain and her masterpiece Archive – endangered waters, she makes that quite clear.