In January 2019, Mark Wilson PhD, artist and Professor at the University of Cumbria, UK and Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir PhD, artist, Professor and MA programme director at the Department of Fine Art, Iceland University of the Arts, received a 42 million ISK (268,000GBP) grant from Rannís, the Icelandic Research Fund for a three-year research project Visitations: Polar Bears out of Place.
In the context of global warming and sea-level rise, ‘Visitations’ takes specific historic and contemporary polar bear arrivals to the coasts of Iceland as a point from which to consider more widely, issues of population displacement, hospitality and increasingly excited global migration patterns. Approaching the subject from a contemporary art perspective, in a cross-disciplinary collaboration with folklorists, anthropologists and an international art curator, the project probes intimate and geo-political contact zones, between humans and others and thereby, related networked effects of climate change, population displacement and environmental disruption The research will gather and combine images, texts, audio, biological and other material relating to specific recorded polar bear arrivals. Methodologies will involve a close study of the relationship between source material and its cultural and environmental contexts as well as to the transmission, interpretation and presentation of subtexts embedded within all visual and textual matter. The project has a number of satellite partner institutions, both locally and abroad, allowing for further comparative study within a wider cultural context, and will conclude in two major museum exhibitions, an international conference and a publication encapsulating the project as a whole.
Collaborators are from the University of Iceland´s programme in Folkloristics and in Art History, as well as its Research Centre in Strandir, the Akureyri Art Museum and the Anchorage Museum in Alaska.
Of the 198 applications submitted to the IRF for this year, 16%, or 31 projects received support. The project is hosted by the Iceland University of the Arts. This is the first time a research project within the field of arts practice has received support from the Icelandic Research Fund.