Aluminati, Reykjavik, Iceland

Location: Reykjavik, Iceland
Client: Reykjavik Art Museum
Size: 200 square meters
Status: Completed 2008

This large outdoor art installation was revealed at the Reykjavik Art Museum in May 2008 as part of a wider event entitled the Experiment Marathon Reykjavik.

The piece, a huge black box 14m width x 14 m length x 5 m height is entitled “I Hate Nature / ‘Aluminati’” and is inspired by society’s “delusional view” that there are limitless natural resources to exploit in the modern world.

Visitors walk into this box, located in the front courtyard of the museum, and from the corridor inside, are presented with a series framed views onto a blinding space of crinkled, industrial aluminium.

The interior space is seemingly indescribable in shape and size and has no real reference to scale. The blackened interior corridor is in sharp contrast to the dazzling light within the core – which is opened to the sky, but not really visible to the viewer. The aluminium reflects the changing quality of an Icelandic day.

The subject of the installation is the aluminium itself. From its position in the black environs of the box, it is both mesmerising and repulsive, attractive and dangerous – the aluminium, specifically the smelting operation to which it refers, is currently a subject of controversy in Iceland. Its beauty is seductive, belying the price the country will pay for its economic dependence on the smelting process.

According to the theory that inspired and accompanies the piece, it assesses the modern view of “nature” as being disconnected from the reality of contemporary landscape. A landscape that is overwhelmed with visual degradation has a consequently negative impact on sustainability.

“The disconnection between what we say and what we do about nature, along with our misconception of our place in nature, disallows us from developing a pro–active, form–giving attitude towards the built environment.”
Martha Schwartz