Chapter 3 – The Noise of Money
With Chapter 3: The Noise of Money we wished to reflect on recent effects of globalization in Iceland, concerning economy and migration. Through privatization and participation in the global financial system, international investment banking and business had taken over the fish industry’s place as society’s leading source of income, with native Icelanders moving away from the fish industry, towards better paid jobs and the fish industry’s jobs instead being occupied my migrants.
In Iceland exists the expression ‘peningafýlan’ – ‘the stench of money’, referring to the terrible smell resulting from the production of fish-liver oil and fishmeal and which can cover whole neighborhoods. We twisted this expression to draw attention to – and comment on the above-mentioned shifts, or new chapter, in society. We wrote the title in large pink letters, in Spanish, on the museum ́s facade.
Inside the museum we hear a sound recording of a one hour walk through the working halls and spaces of a fish processing plant. Several doors have been removed or left open: The basement door, the toilet door and doors leading to staircase, the kitchen and terrace, lending access to spaces not meant for exhibiting artworks, nor for visitors in general.
By placing speakers all over the building the flow of the sound recordings through the museum causes a collision of the two spaces: HB-Grandi in Reykjavik, Iceland’s largest fish processing plants and the Art Museum of Icelandic Federation of Labour (Museum ASÍ). The museum as a factory. On-and-off the museum staff wears the same sound protecting headphones, with radio, as the workers in the fish factory.
Another part of the work spreads through headphones into the building, out to the roof terrace, but mainly from out of the kitchen window into the trees of the garden surrounding the museum. These are autobiographical storytellings juxtaposed to the recording from the fish processing plant. The stories, recorded in the remote East Fjords and in Reykjavik, are from elderly native inhabitants, immigrants (whom all have worked at some point in the fish production) and a few children we met playing. but all of them at some point having worked in the fish production. A group of 13 characters with different backgrounds “draw an image” of this Nordic country and in the case of the immigrants – their journey to this place. The stories have been translated into English or Icelandic depending on the original language and then performed/read by actors and actresses. Both language-versions are played.
In the museum ́s kitchen, the video Kitchen Choreography is playing, mutely. On a wall in the main exhibition space (together with the running audio) there is a mirror-sculpture and in the museums entrance the audio work Step Your Mind, Mind Your Step is playing, were a soft female voice repeats mechanically and randomly the words “…step your mind……. mind your mind……. step your step…..mind your step…”.