Category Archives: recycled art


Artist in residence: Una B. Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)

– Read Una’s previous diary notes Please note this & It boils my blood

Now I will talk about what is enjoyable about being in Japan.

The people here. I have met many people during my stay here and I mostly live and work with  local people. Even though I am sometimes with out a tongue among large groups — and the fact that languages barriers truly exist — I feel very warm with the Japanese people I have connected to. Acting, drawing and whatever you can think of to make yourself understandable has been tried out on both sides. And as I start to know the people better and they to know me, it becomes easier and joking around is no longer a mission.

My experience with the people and the social culture is most friendly and I find the respect among and between people very comfortable. But this is also a double edge sword, this culture has a tradition for people not disagreeing or debating. People here have addressed this problem to me and are searching for a way to get the society to talk and debate about its future. It is very necessary right now because of the nuclear issue that they are facing.

There are not really bars in Japanese culture, but really many drinking restaurants. That means there is a big culture for eating and drinking all night long, talking, laughing and singing. Frankly, I think I have not sung as much with people in years! Maybe this connection through music has become so strong exactly because of the lack of language, but it doesn’t change the fact that the freedom to sing and be exposed by that is ok and not frightening.

Eating in Japan is also fun. It is very social action and as one can imagine the cuisine is brilliant. Of all the various traditional dishes that I have tried at dinner parties or restaurants there are only two things that I will absolutely not eat again. But the rest, preferably.

It is hard to describe a place, and why you start to love it. It is an atmosphere. The millions of details that you notice when you’re going around and about that compose this picture. The attitude, the smile, the colours, the smell, the train, the metro and the face masks. How people just seem to feel ok about falling asleep everywhere and under the most strange circumstances. The fact that you take off your shoes all the time and that you don’t need to worry about locking your bicycle.

The bathhouse and the bathing culture, the loud and colourful advertising signs everywhere manifesting the craziness of this country’s capitalism, shouting people on every corner wanting to sell you something, the stylish girls and guys and Kawii! Never have I met as many adults presenting themselves with such cutefied shyness as here. This attitude is the fruit of the Kawii culture that has been completely integrated into “Old Japan”.

Photographs belong to Una B. Sigurðardóttir

I am telling you that public signs, roadblock and … you name it — has been citified. But the sky here is beautiful and all is full of automates, for whatever you can’t think of and this culture definitely does not understand coffee, or to put it mild, has reinvented it … and everything is a bit different from what you are used to.

I like it.



About the artist 

Una B. Sigurðardóttir completed her BA degree from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in the spring of 2008.  She lived and worked in Reykjavík, as an artist and a poet, as well as teaching figure drawing at a secondary grammar school until the fall of 2011. She currently lives in the Netherlands and is pursuing her MA degree of Fine Arts at AKV St. Joost Academy.

She was a member of Gallery Crymo, an artist-run, non-profit gallery. In addition she ran a studio at Hvefisgata 61 in collaboration with other artists and writers. She has been involved in the organization of many artistic events, participated in numerous exhibitions in Iceland and abroad, and given performances and readings of her own works.

Her body of work is marked by multiplicity and the desire to experiment with materials, medium and method. Therefore she has chosen not to limit herself to a specific medium, although she has increasingly given emphasis to  drawing/painting/collage and sculpture, as well as continuing the fusion of and search for new mediums. Una has explored the relationship between text and other mediums such as text and image. For example, three books with her texts and drawings, “The Adventures of the Sick Girl”, “The Sick Girl Kills” and “Soap Stories” were published in 2007.

Since 2010 she has individually, and in collaboration with artist Rakel McMahon, experimented with new mediums and forms of presentation, such as creating large advertising stickers displayed in windows and manufacturing false product packagings. By this they are testing the border between the art and consumerism.

In Una’s works there are underlying narratives, and although she critically examines serious subject matter, her work is liberally spiked with humor. Una seeks to process her personal vision of society and environment in the context of the ideological assumptions and global realities that modern man is faced with. Therefore many images of consumerism and popular culture, as well as symbols of dominant ideologies, have become motifs in her work.

Between 9th of February – 11th of April 2012, Una has been writing diary notes which she has been kind enough to share with us. This was the last post. 

Read Una’s previous posts, #1 here and #2 here

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Filed under Art, Artist in residence, Guest blog, Illustrations, Japan, Konsthopp, Paintings, Political Art, recycled art, Reykjavík, Sociopolitical art, Uncategorized


Artist in residence: Una B. Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)

– Read Una’s previous diary notes Please note this

I am Icelandic. I have always thought of my country as a clean place. I started to appreciate how much I loved this factor when I started traveling around the world. Water has always been important for me and the fact that in so many places you can’t really drink the tap water — and furthermore, don’t even think of drinking from a stream. This has become normality. But is it really?

Being here only enlarges this feeling of mine.

“Garbage Gold” (2011) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

My thoughts concerning the pureness of Icelandic nature have changed during the last years. I don’t think it is so clean anymore and I worry about its future.

It boils my blood to think about the policy that has been and is being run in Iceland concerning environmental issues. Unoriginal and environmentally hostile ideas in order to create economical wealth seems to be the main theme.

One wonders if those who are taking the decisions for the future of the land think that it is ok to pollute it a bit more, because it is so clean to begin with.

“Gender Politics #1” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

“Gender Politics #2” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

“Gender Politics #3” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

If you can recall the response of the Icelandic government during the Kyoto Protocol back in 1997 it might cast a light on why I think this. But there are countless cases to mention to support this opinion of mine.  Oil Cleaning station on the Westfjords? Some people thought it was a desirable possibility, taking to counter all the other possibilities at hand to create jobs and economical boost. Why not try to be a leading country in creating alternative solutions in stead of following into the footsteps of already known destructive style.



Una Björk Sigurðardóttir (b. 1983) was recently an artist in residence in Tocido, Japan. In Una’s works there are underlying narratives, and although she critically examines serious subject matter, her work is liberally spiked with humor. Una seeks to process her personal vision of society and environment in the context of the ideological assumptions and global realities that modern man is faced with. Therefore many images of consumerism and popular culture, as well as symbols of dominant ideologies, have become motifs in her work.

Between 9th of February – 11th of April 2012, Una has been writing diary notes which she has been kind enough to share with us. This post is the second of three letters…

Read Una’s previous diary notes “Please note this” here

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Filed under Art, Installation, Japan, Konsthopp, Paintings, Political Art, recycled art, Sociopolitical art, Young Art


Final words: Vik Muniz (Brazil)

Vik Muniz describes himself as a product of a military dictatorship. Born and raised in Brazil, the photographer ended up in Brooklyn in the 1980´s, where he has lived and worked ever since. Muniz searched back to the stamping ground when he made his world-famous portrait series;  “Pictures of Garbage.”

It is really unnecessary to enlarge more on Vik Muniz. Most people know him after the great success of the the multi-award winning documentary; Waste Land.

“Marat (Sebastiao)” by Vik Muniz, 2008.  He created portraits of the “catadores” (the catadores are the individuals who work at the site separating recyclable materials from general waste) 

Photographs taken from The New York Times

As you readers might have notice, this month has been dedicated to recycled art; waste, garbage, junk and trash. So I thought it was appropriated to end the month with Vik Muniz´s words.

After living on an open-air dump outside Rio de Janiero for almost two years the man naturally deserves that honor to be nominated — The King of Trash.

The quote is taken from Waste Land:

“I’m at this point in my career were I’m trying to step away from the realm of fine arts,” he says to the camera, “because I think it’s a very exclusive, very restrictive place to be. What I want to be able to do is to change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day.”

— Vik Muniz

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Guest blogger: Gunnhildur Thordardottir (Iceland)

My interest in recycling started early and as a child my parents would recycle paper, food containers and composted the organic waste in our garden. Recycling was one of the daily routines in our home and easy for me and my siblings to participate in. However in the 80´s and 90´s recycling was a new term in Iceland and few people paid attention to this lifestyle.

Furthermore I was a girl scout and one of the goals of the scout movement is to respect nature and use the materials that the nature provides wisely and innovatively. The capturing slogan ´Recycle or Die` is fairly new and means that we need to recycle for our future, our children and future generations to come to keep the earth sustainable.

Many artists have used this slogan as well as musicians, fashion labels and it has even inspired filmmakers. For me, using recycled materials in my artwork is very natural since I have continued to recycle into adulthood, and love passing this knowledge to my children by making something creative with them. Recycled material is very versatile, is already there and it does not matter whether I am going to make something intricate or simple. In my artwork I have used i.e. socks, food containers, off cuts of steel, wood, paper, plastics, leftovers of yarn and other textiles.

Fortunately for our planet more and more people are interested in saving the planet by recycling and hopefully it will make a difference. Furthermore I hope my work inspires people to reduce, reuse and recycle!

My main goal with re-cycled art is to realize an object of interest or beauty with material, which would otherwise be thrown away!

— Gunnhildur Thordardottir, visual artist

From the exhibition Losun/Emisssion

Photograph by Konsthopp

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This month´s favorite: Recycled art

From waste to resource … 

In recent years, waste products and other materials have become more and more prominent in the creation of art. Here are some recycled art masterpieces — made from junks!

“Ghost in the machines – The Beatles” by Erika Iris Simmons

“Binary Bound” by Nick Gentry

“Harmonix Rock Band” by Kyle Bean

“Hard disk drive robot” by Miguel Rivera

“What came first” by Kyle Bean

“The rabbit” by Robert Bradford

“Collage 09” by Derek Gores

Virginia Fleck

Photographs are taken from Hongicat & google image

From litter off the streets — to odds and ends in the house; these artists from all around the world find a use for what others would toss without a second thought. Cassettes, discarded toys, floppy disks, hard disk drives, eggshells, recycled clothes & magazines are among things that can — occasionally — be turned into gold.

In the last year Konsthopp have visited numerous of exhibition dedicated to some sort of recycled art. Examples includes; Buffé (Stockholm), Cotton Rags (Reykjavik), Sæborgin; Kynjaverur og ókindur (Reykjavik), Monument (Oslo), Losun (Reykjavik) and Sorp er auðlind (Reykjavik).

Stay posted about more recycled art-related topics next days. We are having a guest blog this week!

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Vernissage: 10th of March 2012, Íslensk Grafík (Reykjavik)

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do — or do without” (New England proverb)

This month happened to be dedicated to recycled art. I stumbled upon two recycled art exhibitions, watched the documentary Waste Land for the first time and discovered many artists that use waste materials in their creation of art.

Gunnhildur Thordardottir is one of them. The artist is very keen on recycling and uses materials for her work that would otherwise be thrown away — such as unpaired socks, off-cuts of textiles, sticky plastic film and empty food containers.

Beside the recycling, the artist’s inspiration is derived from primary colours and different forms. As an occupied mother of three, the artist had to use more child friendly materials than usually in the process of the exhibition.

The color scheme was a pleasant surprise on this particularly grey and gusty Saturday. Specially after my visit to the black&white “Santiago Sierra” show, which is housed in the same building (Listasafn Reykjavikur), the exhibition “Losun” befitted exceptionally well in the bright and — in my opinion — one of the best exhibition spaces in Reykjavik.

Photograph by Konsthopp

After a nice chat with the artist — were we discussed anything from unlike art scenes in different countries to child raising — we found out that we had more in common than just an ardor for contemporary art. Me and Gunnhildur are namely born on the same day.

Cheers to everyone that are born on the 10th of March!

Gunnhildur Thordardottir completed her BA in Art and Art History at Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University, graduating in 2003. She completed a MA degree in Arts Management in 2006. Since then she has been an active artist as well as working at museums and for the Printmaking Association in Iceland. Gunnhildur will next open an exhibition Fráhvarf / Departure in SÍM, 3rd of April 2012.

Date: 10th – 25th of March 2012

Artist: Gunnhildur Thordardottir

Place: Printmaking Association in Iceland (Íslensk Grafík), Tryggvagata 17, Reykjavik

Opening hours: Thursday – Sunday, 14.00 – 18.00


Filed under Art, Konsthopp, recycled art, Reykjavík, Sculptures, Solo exhibit, Uncategorized


Net stroll: 18th of March 2012, Guerra de la Paz (Cuba)

Originally sourcing their materials from waste bins of second-hand goods in Miami, Guerra de la Paz is now widely known for their special sculptures — made from discarded items of daily life.

Cuban born American artists, Alain Guerra (1968) and Neraldo de la Paz (1955) are the collaborate duo behind the work and the team. Often using old clothing to build their sculptures — the message expressed with their recycled art is about the discard nature of our mass-produced lifestyles.

Photographs taken from The Coolist

Guerra de la Paz works mainly in sculpture, installation and photography. Their work references the politics of modern conflict and consumerism alongside symbols of faith. They live and work in Miami and have been consistently producing collaboratively since 1996.

If you are wondering about the composite name, Guerra de la Paz (e. war of peace) it simply is a representation of the artists’s Cuban last names — even though it still might have a deeper meaning. And speaking about Cuba. Although it has been a while since I was in Havana, Che Guavara’s words are still as classic as they were back then. Fellows, closer and further;

¡ Hasta la victoria, siempre !


Filed under Art, Art stroll, Political Art, recycled art, Sculptures