Margrét Elísabet Ólafsdóttir

How the image of nature contributed to the institutional acceptance of video art in Iceland

Moss and Lava is a title of a video installation by the Icelandic artist Steina Vasulka. The work was made for Gallery Ljósaklif in Hafnarfjörður in the year 2000. The same year Steina showed another video installation, Myndhvörf, at the National Gallery of Iceland. In 2001 the National Gallery acquired Moss and Lava which is now part of its collection. This was the first video by Steina acquired by the museum and one of the first videos the museum bought for its tiny video art collection.

In this lecture I want to examine the hypothesis that it was the image material of Moss and Lava that made the museum choose this video. I thus want to suggest that the uncanny – in this case the electronic medium – needed to relate to a familiar subject of local painting to be acknowledged as visual arts.