An exhibition opening next month at the Icelandic Collection’s Dr. Paul H.T.Thorlakson Gallery,
located in the Elizabeth Dafoe Library at the University of Manitoba, reflects on the importance of the written word at the dawn of the internet era. It is also a meditation on literacy and cultural identity especially in regards to Canada and Iceland.
Fleyg orð, or Words in Flight, is a series of works by Guy Stewart, who is happy to return to the Icelandic Collection. Having lived in Iceland for over twenty years, as a Canadian his first contact with Iceland was through the Icelandic Department and the Icelandic Collection. This is his first exhibition at the Dr. Paul H.T. Thorlakson Gallery.
The exhibition consists of the art book Sjáum-k eg meir um Munin, a codex in which each page is a functioning kite; an oil painting, North Atlantic Treaty; and on the occasion of his death, a pop-up book based on Leonard Cohen’s poem G-d Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot, approved by the poet.
Sjáum-k eg meir um Munin features oral works from pre-literate time which survive today as texts, such as the Icelandic Úlfhams Saga. Óðinn’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn, corresponding to thought and memory, are expressions of the oral, which focuses on memorization; and the written, which frees the mind to concentrate on novelty. The oralliterate transition affected our thinking in ways that we are only now beginning to understand: how will the internet affect our ways of thinking?
The painting North Atlantic Treaty is a family portrait in the mode recognizable from the permanent collection of the National Museum of Iceland. What happens when cultures meet? Synthesis, blending, fracture? North Atlantic Treaty has Icelandic and Canadian culture especially in mind.
A liminal figure spanning religious and other aspects of culture, Leonard Cohen embraced the diverse. Canada claims him. To what extent can a poet be claimed? As G-d Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot addresses God, magic, immanence and transcendence – can the specifics of culture be transcended?
Fleyg orð opened on Friday, June 16, 2017.
Article from Lögberg Heimskringla: