Exhibition of poems and photographs at the ground-floor exhibition space in The Pearl, a glass-dominated structure built around the distribution tanks that provide Reykjavik with geothermal water for central heating, summer 1994

This exhibition consisted of 192 large, photographic portraits (118x100cm each) of as many Icelanders, arranged equally on the six 10-metre-high geothermal distribution tanks.

The photographs were obtained from the Reykjavik Photo Archives and private collections, along with several taken by the artist himself. A common feature was that they showed faces staring straight into the camera, virtually devoid of expression. An equal balance was maintained in the age of the faces (ranging from babies to the elderly) and the age of the photographs * dating from the earliest days of photography to recent shots), with similar representation in terms of sex and class, as far as this could e discerned. The youngest subjects were arranged at the bottom and the oldest at the top.

The occasion of the exhibition was the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Iceland. Accordingly, Thorvaldur used an “ official selection” of 50 patriotic poems by Icelanders written over the past 150 years and published them in postcard form. In conjunction with the Post and Telecommunications Authority m a special poetry post office was set up at The Pearl for the duration of the exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition thereby had the chance to look the nation in the eye, read the nation’s poems about the country it lives in, and last but not least write their own reflections and send the poems with a special exhibition cancellation from The Pearl all over the world. The Pearl thereby became an oyster that produced gems of its own, and the geothermal distribution tanks pumped out poetry to warm the city.

Exhibition coordinator: Ingibjorg Bjornsdottir
Technical production of photographs: Leifur Thorsteinsson
Exhibition cancellation and postcards designed by Birgir Adresson

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