Hús Kveðja-english version

Translation of the program in Svavarssafn 21st may-10th june

2. maí 2022

Translation of Höfðinn-magazine to english. Opening on the 21st of May with several events over the next few weeks....

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Húskveðja in Svavarssafn

The artist Eva Bjarnadóttir invites everybody to the opening of Húskveðja on saturady 21.may. Many events will be held alongside the exhibition in both Höfn and Öræfi...See more on backpage



Considering houses

What is a house ? At it´s core a house is simply a case around humans and their lives. Few walls and usually a roof in order to protect people, their animals and belongings from the forces of nature. House most oftenly have at least one entrance and a window to increase brightness and air, but of course there are exceptions.

The spirit of a house comes with it´s purpose. And when the purpose has changed the spirit changes as well. Some houses have different rolse, different lives that begin and end with changes brought about by cultural or technological progress, or changes in economy or transportation.

Björn Snær Mountainpoet


Öræfi joins Kaupfélag Austur-Skaftfellinga

The fifty-seventh annual meeting of Kaupfélag Skaftfellinga (COOP based in western part of Skaftafells-region) was held in Kirkjubæjarklaustur on Saturday 30th of may. The meeting agreed to allow the department based in Öræfi leave the association and join with Kaupfélag-Austur-Skaftfellinga(COOP based in Austur-Skaftafells region). It was agreed that KF.Austur-Skaftfellinga would buy the property of KF.Skaftfellinga at Fagurhólsmýri, i.e. the warehouse and slaughterhouse along with all equipment and merchandise. The departure will take place at the end of the year 1964 and the price will be 509.694 kr.

Sadly members of the department in Öræfi could not attend the annual meeting for fear of bringing influenza to their region, but voted unanimously at their own meeting to extend their gratitude towards KF.Skaftfellinga for having eased the lives of ordinary people in Öræfi for half a century.



May 21st Hús kveðja. Opening in Svavarssafn at 16 :00

May 28th Guided tour around Salthöfði and farewell concert (Húskveðja) at Gamla Búð at Fagurhólsmýri. The tour starts at 14 :00 but the concert at 16 :30.

June 2nd How to read a house- Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir & Auður Hildur Hákonardóttir discuss the works by Eva and their context. In cooperation with Byggðasafn Austur-Skaftafellssýslu.

June 10th Final goodbyes in Svavarssafn where the curator will offer pancakes at 15 :00


Editorial board of Höfðinn

Eva Bjarnadóttir chairman

Snæbjörn Brynjarsson head of accounting

Tim Junge secretary

Dagur Snær Guðmundsson translator

Publisher: Menningarmiðstöð Hornafjarðar


Steinunn Björg Ólafsdóttir, Einar Bjartur Egilsson, Gunnlaugur Bjarnason and María Sól Ingólfsdóttir


Auður Hildur Hákonardóttir & Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir

The editorial board wishes to send special thanks to:

Inga Huld Hákonardóttir, Yann Leguay, Elín Gunnlaugsdóttir, Gunnþóra Gunnarsdóttir, Sigrún Þorsteinsdóttir, Egill Gunnarsson, Ísmús, Haukur Snorrason, Halldóra Oddsdóttir, Sigrún Sigurgeirsdóttir, Jónína Sigurgeirsdóttir, Ingunn Jónsdóttir, Pálína Þorsteinsdóttir, Halldóra Jónsdóttir, Aðalgeir Arason, Anna Yates, Farvi, Joe Keys, Marcel, Reykjavík Art Festival, Byggðasafn Austur-Skaftafellssýslu, Héraðsskjalasafn Austur-Skaftafellssýslu and Héraðsskjalasafn Rangæinga & V-Skaftfellinga, as well as Icelandic Visual Arts Fund and SASS (Samtök sunnlenskra sveitarfélaga).


Words from the curator


One of the first things i thought of when I replaced Auður Mikaelsdóttir temporarily at Svavarssafn was how exciting and fun it would be to work with Eva Bjarnadóttir. Eva is an artist that combines the national and international, being both avant-garde and ambitious, without forgetting the past and its various little details. Eva comes from Öræfi, the shire between the sands, yet she studies art at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in the Netherlands. Since her return home to Iceland, she has contributed to the vibrant cultural life in her hometown, the old slaughterhouse that she acquired in 2017, now houses apart from chickens, different events such as musical acts, art shows, and more. It was exactly her work at the slaughterhouse that first caught my attention.

In 2019 Eva held an art show in Midpunkt, a space in Kópavogur that I and my wife Ragnheiður ran from 2018 – to 2021. The show was called Í morgunsárið, or in English, The Early Morning, and was about this slaughterhouse. That exhibition as well as this one both ask a pressing question for museums and cultural spaces such as Svavarssafn: What is so remarkable about old objects and memories? What do these things mean when they are shown outside of the venue? E.g., when robes, aprons, and hairnets that the staff of the slaughterhouse in Öræfi wore during their work until 1988, suddenly appear in a basement in Kópavogur under the guise of art.

When I discussed the idea with Eva of a show of one month, I was fully prepared that she would reject it, the time frame of the show was not only short, but the preparation time was as well. But then Eva came up with the fun idea of setting up an exhibition that is a living event and a place for continuous conversation. Where local performances, local history, and pancakes are intertwined, Húskveðja is both a farewell moment and a new beginning. This time the focus is not on a slaughterhouse that is reborn as a cultural center, but rather on a space that housed the first store for people from Öræfi. Gamlabúð was called Vöruhúsið while the store was located in the house, and is around 200 meters from the slaughterhouse, below Hamrabelti at Fagurhólsmýri. It is now going through a period of transformation after decades of hibernation, where it will soon find new meaning as a home for Eva and her family.

According to what Sigurður Björnsson from Kvískeri writes in the local history of Austur-Skaftafellssýslu, people from Öræfi visited the store in Höfn í Hornafirði after a long history run by the Germans. With the advent of a monopoly store, farmers in Öræfi were forced to go all the way to Djúpivogur until 1787. It is not economically stable when one considers that from Fagurhólsmýri there are around 224 kilometers to Djúpivogur. These trips were made on horseback and required you to cross difficult rivers and sand, but in 1915 ships began making voyages to Öræfi. These were not the first voyages there, as it is well known that Ingólfur Arnarson landed in Öræfi and also Þorgerður, one of the settlers. Later, Kári Sölmundarson broke his ship at Ingólfshöfði if we can take the word of Njála as truth.

As can be heard, we can trace Öræfi's trade history, if not to Ingólfur Arnarson, then at least to the so-called German century, and see that there are deep historical connections between Öræfi and Hornafjörður. But when unloading began it became more efficient for Öræfi to direct its business westwards to Mýrdal, and work under Kaupfélag Skaftfellinga. Just as merchant ships replaced horses and air transport took over from ships, so too would the car radically change the ways of trade and eventually result in Öræfi turning back to the east.

We live in a time where distances are rapidly declining and integration increases, for the most part, this is a very positive development whenever a new road facilitates travel. But when the travel norm changes, so too do business practices and cultures, for a warehouse built near the shore, during times of air travel and a completed ring road meant that the warehouse was poorly situated and also obsolete. The ring road around Iceland was completed in 1974 when the Skeiðarárbrú bridge was inaugurated, but in 1962 when the Fjallsá river at Breiðarmerkursandur was bridged, that bridge had a significant effect on business practices in Öræfi. Farmers in Öræfi had then for nearly half a century done most of their business with Kaupfélag Skaftfellinga in Vík, but now it seemed that it would soon be more cost-effective to direct them to Kaupfélag Austur-Skaftfellinga. In 1964, Kaupfélag in Höfn bought the real estate belonging to Kaupfélag Skaftfellinga in Öræfi, the very houses that Eva has worked within recent years as a part of her artistic creation and process.

The history of Icelandic art is shorter than the history of its trade to the degree that we cannot properly trace it back to the settlement. It could be said that Öræfin first entered Icelandic art history when Ásgrímur Jónsson appeared with his easels in the summer of 1911. Öræfin thus entered the history of painting a year earlier than Höfn as Ásgrímur appeared there a year later. In regards to Öræfi, the first professional Icelandic painter said that the nature there was very spectacular and beautiful as he painted e.g. Öræfajökull and Svínafell, which he thought looked like Iceland in ancient times, with forests up to the slopes, and landslide glaciers to the lowlands. By reading Ásgrímur's descriptions, it becomes clear that the country was not easy to navigate, “Skeiðará is one of the most damaging waters that can be mentioned, and only people from Öræfi knows to what extent. I got two men to follow me west and I half part dread the trip”. One of the first things that caught my attention in Ásgrímur's story was not just the descriptions of the country that is both beautiful but dangerous, but where he stayed and who his hosts were, but it was in Fagurhólsmýri and it was Eva's great-grandfather, Ari Hálfdánarson, who accompanied him around the countryside, e.g. out on the strange and peculiar Ingólfshöfði, as Ásgrímur puts it.

The tradition of art in Öræfi is therefore closely connected to the town of Fagurhólsmýri. Öræfi is woven into the tradition, like most settlements on the outskirts, with the eyes of travelers painting pictures of exotic landscapes to sell. In this case, the oil paintings and watercolors were sold in both Reykjavík and Copenhagen and not preserved in Skaftafellssýsla.

As the 20th century progressed, the working methods of artists changed. Painters such as Svavar Guðnason paved the way for abstract art in Iceland after the war. By the time Öræfi's general store was moving back from west to east, the Öræfi department of Kask in Fagurhólsmýri moved up the country, a new generation of artists was going even further and saying goodbye to the canvas altogether. One of the most interesting members of that generation, Birgir Andrésson, I believe has had a certain influence on this show. At his first solo exhibition in a gallery in Suðurgata, he showed photographs of the “eyktarmörk “, In earlier centuries, Icelanders divided the day into eight three-hour units called with an individual unit called an eykt, some of which still occur in everyday speech such as e.g. noon and midnight, while others such as rise and midday are less used. In a society where there are no clocks everywhere to be found, farmers had to rely on the landscape to tell about the course of the sun, and from there come names such as Hádegishólar (Noon-hills), and Miðmundagil (midday-ravine) for example. The art critic, Bragi Ásgeirsson, at the time wrote that the photos were repulsively ugly, but it should come as no surprise if they were not up to artistic standards. Hannes from Hækingadal, who took the pictures, had never held a camera before when Birgir drove up to him and asked him to take pictures of the eyktarmörk, and although they did not receive praiseworthy reviews, the National Museum immediately showed interest in them because it turned out that these were the only photographs of the eyktarmörk, it was not until an artist recognized the work that people realized that this was “knowledge that was dying out in the heads of old men.” (Source: Birgir Andrésson in Icelandic colors, by Þröstur Helgason)

I mention this in the context of Eva's exhibition because like Birgir, she directs our eyes to the past and asks us: Is there anything remarkable there that we need to think about, preserve, work with, or think about?. Unlike Ásgrímur Jónsson, she is a local who sees her surroundings not as foreign, but as everyday sights. We are much more on the trail of nostalgia than that of marvelous beauty. But unlike Hannes from Hækingsdal, who was a local when he took the pictures for Birgir, she is an educated artist who uses the methods of contemporary art in her creation.

With this exhibition, I hope to draw the attention of Hornafjörður's locals to cultural work and emphasize that Svavarssafn is an art museum belonging to the people of Öræfi just as it is an art museum of those who live in Höfn. Skaftrafell and Hornafjörður are on the outskirts of the county, which covers the long road between Lón and Skeiðarársandur. These are areas that are historically, economically, and culturally connected, but also have a unique position that artists such as Eva highlight beautifully.

The program that Eva has prepared for us is varied. We have the opportunity to visit the old warehouse on Saturday 28th of May, but then there will be a history walk, out to Salthöfði where poets and storytellers introduce us to the area and after that, a house greeting will be held in Gömlubúð. On the 2nd of June, we will look at how you can read into houses and memories with Eva, Auður Hildur Hákonardóttir, and Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir in Svavarssafn where the exhibition will be placed in a wider context, in collaboration with the regional museum and students in FAS. At the invitation of the Reykjavík Art Festival, the Belgian musician Yann Leguay and the dancer Inga Huld Hákonardóttir will perform for us their music and dance project “Again the sunset” in the exhibition itself on the 7th of June. Last but not least, of course, is the official opening on 21 May and the final farewell on 10th of June. This program is open to anyone who wants to participate, and more information can be found on the back.
We look forward to seeing you.

Snæbjörn Brynjarsson



Öræfalest- The caravan of Öræfi

The hardship of travelling and trading

was the heritage of those in Öræfasveit.

Those duties were done un-abating,

for their love of country was too great.

Across ravines and over streams and rivers,

the caravan with wet manes goods delivers.

Cruel is the obstacle that blocks the way,

of those who wish to return home today.

Their hooves trotted half the south,

to bring the goods to their families mouths.

Who dares now to try this same test,

and in the saddle do their very best?

In due time they rode the ocean wave,

In order to wares and merchandise save.

But when the streams and sea closed their way,

They soared the sky without dismay.


Translated badly by Snæbjörn Brynjarsson
Based on a poem by Þorsteinn J


 Smælki / Trivia


Svavar Guðnason showing in America

The world-renowned abstract-painter, Svavar Guðnason, showed his work in Grönningen in Copenhagen recently. Next year he will participate in an even larger exhibition which will tour America and show in both Pittsburgh and Washington.
Editorial board


A certain species of crab goes under the name hermit-crab. These crabs, which may be found on beaches all around Iceland, do not have a shell and must rely on the shelter they can find inside the conches of various snailspecies. The crabs tend to exchange conches and can therefore be said to have both houses and a housing market.

The Joke

Painter: "This is a cow grazing."
Audience: "Where is the grass."
Painter: "She ate it."
Audience: "But where is the cow?"
Painter: "She left when there was no more grass."
Editorial board

The story of Blesaklettur

When Öræfajökull erupted 1362 it is said that the only survivors were an old woman and a horse. The summer after the eruption a group of thingmen heading to Althingi saw a horse with a blaze on his head (Blesóttur in Icelandic). The horse was standing on the top of a cliff at Fagurhólsmýri. But when they attempted to capture it the horse panicked and jumped, which lead to it falling of the cliff. Since then the cliff behind the COOP-Warehouse has been known as Blesaklettur.


New Inhabitants

Rumour has it that the traveller and artist Guðjón S. Runólfsson intends to settle in Öræfi. He has in recent years had many adventures in Canada. Guðjón was born in Hamrar in Mýrahreppur, but a source close to Höfðinn claims with much certainity that Guðjón will return to Iceland in a few years.


Did you know that until the bridges were built, there were no mice in Öræfi.

Hús Kveðja, opening 16 :00 May 21st

Opening with the artist and pancakes.

Walking tour at Salthöfði (two shoes) and Húskveðja 14 :00 May 28th

Eva leads a group for walk to Salthöfði. During the tour various guides will tell stories and poems. At the end of the walk Einar Bjartur Egilsson, Gunnlaugur Bjarnason, María Sól Ingólfsdóttir and Steinunn Björg Ólafsdóttir sing in Gömlu búð at Fagurhólsmýri. The walk starts at 14 :00 but the performance at 16:30

Lesið í hús/House reading- 2. June Kl.20:00

Environmental philosopher Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir and artist Auður Hildur Hákonardóttir put the exhibition into a wider context by reading into objects borrowed from the regional museum.

Again The Sunset- June 7th 20:00

Again the Sunset is an experience on the boundaries between a performance and a concert.

Inga Huld Hákonardóttir, one of Iceland´s most innovative choreographs, along with the belgian sound artist Yann Leguay, create a haunted love song that travels through the voice to the body, to raw elements and materials, like an expressive entity without an inherent body.

Lokahóf/Vernissage- June 10th 15:00

Curator offers guests some homemade pancakes.