Annual report of The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SÍM) 2014
SÍM’s board-, union commission- and association meetings.
The new board of SÍM was appointed on April 3rd 2014. The board consists of Jóna Hlíf Halldórsdóttir (Chairman), Erla Þórarinsdóttir (Vice-chairman), Gunnhildur Þórðardóttir, (Secretary), Steingrímur Eyfjörð and Kristjana Rós Guðjohnsen (Board members). A total of 13 board meetings were held, including two union commission meetings. In addition there were three association meetings.
The board of SÍM works in the interest of artists. During the operating year 2014-2015, SÍM’s board has placed an emphasis on an active dialogue between the board and SÍM’s members in order to strengthen its image, both inside and outside the society. The board is of the opinion that the way to improve the working environment between itself and SÍM’s members is an active dialogue which will lead to an awakening of the members and to their participation in SÍM’s operations.
SÍM’s board has worked on the following projects in 2014:
A SALARY SURVEY AND AN OPINION POLL AMONG SÍM’S MEMBERS
As before, SÍM’s biggest projects relate to the work environment and interests of artists. SÍM conducted a salary survey and an opinion poll among its members, as it did in 1995. The results of this poll were introduced at SÍM’s annual meeting on April 16th 2015. The board believes that data from such a poll will be a valuable instrument, in protecting the interests of the association and its members, and as a guideline in contract negotiations for exhibitions.
A TASK FORCE ON CONTRACTS FOR EXHIBITIONS IN COLLABORATION WITH ICELANDIC ART GALLERIES
In the year 2014 the president of SÍM met with the curators of the National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavík Art Museum, LÁ Art Museum, Akureyri Art Museum, The ASÍ Art Gallery, The Hafnarfjörður Centre of Culture and Fine Art, and the Kópavogur Art Museum in order to lay the groundwork for contracts that would ensure that artists be paid for working on their own exhibitions at Icelandic museums and galleries.
A decision was made to create a task force with the objective of forming a proposal for a wage contract for artists exhibiting in museums in Iceland that are operated or sponsored by the government or municipalities. Such a proposal would include wage guidelines for exhibitions in public museums which take into account that the criteria for contracts can be different, such as, among other things, on whether the exhibition is a solo or group exhibition. Such a proposal should, among other things, define the minimum time frame of the wage contract and take into account that exhibitions can accrue costs in terms of obtaining raw materials.
The task force was intended to submit a first draft of the proposal on April 24th 2015 and a final proposal on June 9th 2015. The task force would take into consideration wage guidelines in contracts between public artists and Nordic museums, e.g. the MU contract, as well as in other countries the task force considers comparable to Iceland with regard to the conditions of artists.
The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists appointed visual artists Ilmur Stefánsdóttir and Úlfur Grönvold to represent SIM in the task force, while the museums appointed Þorgerður Ólafsdóttir (Curator of The Living Art Museum) and Kristín Scheving (Department head of Vasulka Chamber). Birta Guðjónsdóttir, department head of the National Gallery of Iceland, will be a substitute member. The project manager of the task force is Ásdís Spanó. Representatives of the task force, including the project manager, will be paid for their work while the project is on-going. The project manager’s wage will be paid by those who participate in the collaboration.
The Minister of Education, Science and Culture, as well as the Association of Local Authorities were invited to nominate one representative to the task force but both declined participation in the project.
APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP OF BHM
Last autumn the SÍM board submitted an application to become a member of the Association of Academics (BHM) and the application will be reviewed at BHM’s annual meeting in April 2015. BHM is an association of organized interest groups or unions that handle professional and labour market issues for their members. BHM supports the operations of its associates, strengthens its members’ knowledge of their rights and wages, and looks out for their interests in relation to the government.
SÍM’s current board believes it is high time that SÍM’s members have access to a health fund, a benefit fund, and a vacation fund, and that a BHM membership will strengthen artists in their fight for an increase in wages. An annual meeting was held on December 1st where a BHM employee introduced SÍM members to the terms and conditions of a BHM membership.
STARA / SÍM’S E-ZINE
The SÍM board has worked hard to improve the image of SÍM, and accordingly decided to transform SÍM’s newsletter into an e-zine. A competition was held among the members for a title for the e-zine and the name STARA, submitted by Steingrímur Eyfjörð, won out.
STARA’s role is to be a platform for artists, art historians and other academics to write articles about artists’ interests and related matters while sharing information about SÍM’s internal operations. STARA is published three times a year, both in Icelandic and English. STARA is a powerful medium for conversation, increased knowledge and an understanding of the importance of art in society. SÍM’s board works toward assembling a board of editors and will try to finance it partly through advertising. Two issues have been published already and are accessible here:
1st issue 2014 – http://issuu.com/stara-sim/docs/stara1tbl/1?e=0/9324008
2nd issue 2014 – http://issuu.com/stara-sim/docs/2stara2tbl/1?e=0/9980847
THE BIG PICTURE
SÍM’s board has undertaken the task of drawing up the “big picture” of Icelandic art, in a map that shows each aspect of the art world while outlining each set and how they intersect, thus facilitating plans for change and corrections.
The map of the big picture is SÍM’s contribution to uniting the future visions of those who work within the art scene in Iceland. It is formulated as an endeavour for collaboration, but initially each member of SÍM will participate in adding missing topics and suggest measures to help form and develop the big picture. Other people working within the art scene will be asked to contribute to the map after the members’ work is done, in order to increase understanding and cooperation.
SOLIDARITY MEETING REGARDING THE PUBLICATION OF PHOTOS OF MUSEUM ASSETS ONLINE
On November 17th 2014, The Icelandic Visual Art Copyright Association (Myndstef) hosted a solidarity meeting regarding the publication of photos of museum assets online. SÍM’s president gave a speech about the board’s policy regarding online copyright and the importance of solidarity. According to the SÍM board, it is in the artists’ interest that their work be accessible to the public and all those who might be interested in discovering art and Iceland’s art history. Besides, museums are lawfully obligated to provide the public with access to museum assets. The question remains, however, if they are lawfully obligated to provide that public access without repayment.
At the end of the meeting a resolution was made, where Myndstef, SÍM, and the museums would send a request to The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture expressing the wish that it help resolve the issues regarding publication of artworks on the internet.
SÍM’s board sent a letter to The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture on December 1st 2014 and requested that the ministry explain publicly the relevant provisions in the copyright law no. 73/1972 and thus what the copyright of image authors and limitations regarding publication of artwork online entails.
It is our opinion that during this process the ministry must take the importance of the distribution of the cultural heritage into consideration, especially the importance of having almost all of Iceland’s museum assets available in one database – sarpur.is. Additionally, we think it reasonable that the ministry recognises the right of image authors to a fair payment for the above-mentioned use as per 3rd clause of the copyright law, cf. 2nd clause of the same law. Likewise, we ask that the ministry increases funding for museums, so their rights can be fully utilized and Iceland’s cultural heritage can be accessible to the public – students, teachers, art lovers and others.
STANDING GUARD OVER THE ICELANDIC VISUAL ART FUND
In September 2014 SÍM’s board launched a collection of signatures to protest cuts to the Icelandic Visual Art Fund. Over 1000 people signed and challenged parliament members to reverse this trend and stand guard over the Icelandic Visual Art Fund.
SÍM’s board decided to host an open assembly on October 31st 2014 in Iðnó in order to hand the list of signatures to Vigdís Hauksdóttir, president of The Icelandic State Budget Committee. A meeting was arranged with MPs to discuss the future of the Icelandic Visual Art Fund and visual art in the country. The artist Ragnar Kjartansson and Ólöf K. Sigurðardóttir, curator of Hafnarborg, gave speeches. Ghostigital gave a performance of sound art. Elísabet Brynhildardóttir, project manager, formally launched The Day of Visual Art. Markús Þór Andrésson, curator, served as the moderator to the assembly. The meeting was well attended and it received considerable coverage in the media.
SÍM’s board have invited artists, curators and interest groups to several lunch meetings in order to discuss the future of the Icelandic Visual Art Fund. The results of these meetings were useful and productive. A decision was made at one of these meetings to ask 12 international Icelandic artists to sign a requisition to MPs to increase the contribution to the Icelandic Visual Art Fund to 50 million ISK in the year 2015. The requisition was written by Rúrí Fannberg, artist, and Hlynur Helgason, art historian. In addition, artists were asked to create propaganda images which were distributed through social media.
SÍM‘s board sent a request to its sister associations in other Nordic countries asking for a declaration of support regarding the cutbacks to the Icelandic Visual Art Fund. Declarations of support arrived from KRO/KIF in Sweden and NBK in Norway.
The announcement that only 25 million ISK would be allocated to the Icelandic Visual Art Fund in the final draft of the 2015 budget bill caused severe disappointment. This meant that the only advancement had been to stop the proposed cutback from 25 million ISK to 15 million for the 2015 fiscal year. This outcome does not mean that the Icelandic Visual Art Fund has been resurrected to its original state from when it was formed in 2012, the fund having been 45 million ISK at the time. SÍM’s board feels, however, that all the work that has been done has sown seeds and will be useful in the ensuing battle for the fiscal year 2016.
THE DAY OF ART
The Day of Art was formally launched on October 31st 2014 at a rendezvous between artists and politicians in Iðnó. The project manager, Elísabet Brynhildardóttir, decided to place this year’s emphasis on stretching the branches of the project outward and seeking to boost discussions on art in a public forum by writing articles published in the days leading up to the event, redesigning the projects website, and adding to its video archive of studio visits. A total of 25 school introductions were held in November and artists opened up their studios on the day itself.
In order to increase the weight and visibility of the day, five columnists were asked to write about the importance of art in Icelandic society. These columnists were Kári Finnsson, Edda Kristín Sigurjónsdóttir, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Ragnar Kjartansson and Tinna Guðmundsdóttir. All the articles were published on www.visir.is as well as the web page for The Day of Art. Ragnar’s article was also published in the newspaper Fréttablaðið on the Day of Art. All the articles are accessible at www.dagurmyndlistar.is.
The articles received a lot of attention among artists as well as others. The numbers tell us that Edda’s article was shared 153 times across social media, Tinna’s article 84 times, Ragnar’s 345 times, Katrín’s 320 times and Kári’s 152 times. That makes 1045 shares across social media in total, which surely spells success although it is difficult to measure the true effect.
The Day of Art received considerable coverage this year, helped along by the solidarity meeting in Iðnó and a great exhibition weekend on November 1st. The day received coverage on the evening news of the two main Icelandic TV stations as well as in interviews on Radio Saga, the cultural radio show Víðsjá on RÁS 1, and the morning radio show on RÁS 2.
One of the most important aspects of the project is the introductions by artists in elementary and secondary schools across the country, this being one of the few opportunities for artists to reach out to such an important group. Artists held introductions in 25 schools and the artists who participated were:
Ásmundur Ásmundsson, Finnbogi Pétursson, Freyja Eilíf Logadóttir, Guðjón Ketilsson, Halla Birgisdóttir, Inga Þórey Jóhannsdóttir, Jóhanna Helga Þorkelsdóttir, Loji Höskuldsson, Pétur Thomsen, Sigga Björg, Sigríður Ágústsdóttir, Una Björg Sigurðardóttir and Unndór Egill Jónsson.
The introductions were well received and in at least two schools, stretched far beyond the allotted time because of the concentration and interest of the students. The SÍM board wishes to thank Elísabet Brynhildardóttir for a job well done and welcomes Berglind Helgadóttir, who has been hired as project manager for The Day of Art in 2016, on board.
PARTNERSHIP CONTRACT – UMM
The SÍM board applied to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science for a partnership contract, since the three year contract with the ministry expired at the end of 2014. At the same time it requested an increased financial contribution to fund changes to UMM (umm.is, an information portal about Icelandic art and artists). The contract was renewed but without the increase in funding. The SÍM board is currently working to revise the contract to incorporate the increase in funding, thus facilitating changes to the UMM web site. It is our hope that the site will be redesigned in the year 2015 with a more efficient layout that will make it easier for members to update and maintain it.
SALARY DEMANDS OF FORMER PRESIDENT
On July 24th SÍM received a letter from VR Trade Union (VR) demanding that SÍM pay the organization’s departing president, Hrafnhildur Sigurðardóttir, full salary for the month of April 2014, minus the salary already paid for that month, plus full salary for May, June and July due to a term of notice and a vacation and December bonus according to VR’s wage agreement. Payments already made for vacation and December bonuses would be subtracted. VR demanded that SÍM pay Hrafnhildur ISK 1.674.481 in this matter. Because of this demand, the SÍM board held a member meeting on August 22nd 2014. At the meeting the board was entrusted to hire a lawyer to answer VR’s demand. The SÍM board hired Ástráður Haraldsson, barrister-at-law at the Mandate law office. Ástráður sent a letter to VR where he notified them that SÍM categorically rejected the claim and considers it unwarranted. VR has not replied.
THE OFFICE OF SÍM
SÍM’s office employs six people working for full-time equivalent units; Ingibjörg Gunnlaugsdóttir (Managing director of SÍM), Þórólfur Árnason (Book-keeper), Hildur Ýr Jónsdóttir (Administrator of the SÍM residency), and Friðrik Weishappel (Property administrator). Arna Óttarsdóttir (Office manager), retired at the beginning of December and Una Baldvinsdóttir was hired in her place. We thank Arna Óttarsdóttir for her work and wish her well in her art.
During the year we acquired a trainee in collaboration with the Icelandic Art Center. Photographer Anna Domnick from Berlin stayed in SÍM’s guest workshop for a month in return for half a work unit from SÍM. Anna was entrusted with creating a new brochure for the SÍM residency and taking photographs of SÍM’s operations that could be utilized as publicity material.
In the past several years, SÍM has rented out workshops to artists. Currently, roughly 200 artists rent workshops from SÍM and those workshops are located at Seljavegur, Nýlendugata, Korpúlfsstaðir, Lyngás and Súðavogur.
THE SÍM GALLERY
The SÍM gallery, located at our headquarters at Hafnarstræti 16, is available to members for exhibitions. Submissions are called for once a year and the exhibition time frame is set at one month. The exhibitions have been well attended and it is possible to follow the schedule on the web site as well as the organization’s Facebook page.
Exhibitions of a great variety were staged in the year 2014. Among them were exhibitions hosted by the Icelandic Textile Guild and The Icelandic Contemporary Photography Association, as well as private exhibitions by Erla Þórarinsdóttir, Úlfur Karlsson, Katrín I. Jónsdóttir Hjördísardóttir, Anna María Lind Geirsdóttir, Emma Heiðarsdóttir, Þórdís Erla Zoëga, Ragnheiður Ragnarsdóttir and Joris Rademeker. An advent exhibition with members’ works was held in December to great acclaim.
SÍM RESIDENCY IN REYKJAVÍK
A total of 115 foreign artists stayed in the SÍM residency in Reykjavik in 2014, most of them for one month but some for 2-3 months. Each month SÍM holds an artist talk at its gallery where artists give a brief description of their pieces and work, and at the end of each month a group exhibition is held at the gallery for two days. SÍM applied for a grant from KK Nord in 2012 and received a two year grant. In 2014 four artists were invited to come, whereupon they all stayed at Seljavegur.
This time submissions were not called for but four artists, who had applied for the residency and been accepted, were invited. These artists were: Anna Ihle from Norway who stages an exhibition at The Living Art Museum, Idun Caroline Huse Baltzersen from Norway, Ieva Saulīte from Latvia and Eeva-Liisa Puhakka from Finland.
SÍM has an ongoing residency exchange with Vaanta in Finland and Halla Birgisdóttir went to Vaanta in June of 2014. This collaboration will continue in the year 2015.
SÍM RESIDENCY IN BERLIN
SÍM has rented a one bedroom apartment with a workspace in Neue Bahnhofstrasse in Friedrichshein in Berlin. Members of SÍM have an opportunity to rent the workspace for a month at a time, or for a shorter period in the summer. Members of BÍL (The Federation of Icelandic Artists) are given a chance to apply for residence in the guest workshop when the space is available. Applications for the workshops are received all year round.
On behalf of the board
Jóna Hlíf Halldórsdóttir, chairman.