Birds of passage 1998-2018

An artist residency “is an outcome of time, place and people and it offers an opportunity for enduring relationships and a profound communion with both art and one’s own thoughts.“ 1

20 years of Skaftfell’s artist-in-residency program have resulted in 250 artists coming to Seyðisfjörður and to East Iceland. Some have left a physical trace behind, or a trace in someone’s memory. Some have returned many times, and some have stayed for good.

Birds of passage presents a visual journey down memory lane from Skaftfell’s residency archive, and artwork by current artists-in-residence Hannimari Jokinen and Joe Sam-Essandoh, Jemila MacEwan, and Elena Mazzi in collaboration with Sara Tirelli.

On June 9 a symposium will bring Skaftfell’s former and present “art workers” and facilitators together with colleagues from similar residency programs in East Iceland, and invites them to share their thoughts and experiences regarding the art of hosting. The symposium will discuss why it is locally and globally important to continue to support and develop artist residency programs, and to host artists from all over the world in remote regions such as East Iceland. 


Sat 26th May 14:00-15:00
Reset. Decolonizing Methods in Art”
Lecture by Hamburg based artists Hannimari Jokinen and Joe Sam-Essandoh. The duo will present their ongoing research on the transatlantic enslavement trade, connecting Denmark, Hamburg-Altona, the Caribbean, Westafrica, and Iceland. During their residency at Skaftfell they have been investigating the unusual life of Hans Jonathan, who escaped enslavement and who settled in East Iceland in 1802. He started a family in Djúpivogur and lived there as a highly respected person, and as the head of the trading post where he sold sugar and coffee, among other commodities. The two artists commemorate his global journey and his local vestiges in their artwork. The lecture will be followed by a short performance.

Sat 9th June 13:00-15:00
Birds of passage 1998-2018
Symposium reflecting upon the development of artist residencies in East Iceland since the millennium, and where to go next. Read more.

Artist bios

Elena Mazzi was born in 1984 in Reggio Emilia (Italy). Her multimedial works have been displayed in many solo and collective exhibitions, among them the 14th Istanbul Biennale, the 17th BJCEM Mediterranean Biennale, Fittja pavilion in a collateral event at the 14thVenice Architecture Biennale, and COP17 in Durban. Elena’s project in Iceland, ‘Resilient borders’, intends to analyze how the structure of surrounding spaces can influence our perception of belonging and freedom, through the notion of geographical borders.

Hannimari Jokinen is a visual artist and curator, born in Helsinki/Finland, and based in Hamburg/Germany. She studied art, linguistics, education, and culture management. Her practice includes art in urban space, participatory projects, community art, film, photography, installation, performance, and publications. Hannimari’s work has been shown in many Western and Eastern European countries, the USA, Tanzania, Ghana, and China.

Joe Sam-Essandoh is a visual artist, born in Ghana, and living in Hamburg/Germany. His work includes serigraphy, painting, graphic design, sculpture, photography, and mixed media. He has been teaching silk screening workshops for over 20 years. Joe’s work has been shown in various museums and project spaces in Germany.

Hannimari Jokinen and Joe Sam-Essandoh have been working together on decolonialization strategies for several years. Among other topics, their projects have been about Hamburg’s and Denmark’s colonial past and about their notorious involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. During their residency at Skaftfell they are researching local and global colonial history and early Black presence in Iceland, connecting Westafrica, the former Danish-Caribbean Virgin Islands, Northern Europe, and the Eastern Icelandic region.

Jemila MacEwan, b. 1985 is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in New York. Jemila was born in Scotland before emigrating to Australia with her family; this sense of displacement has informed her work as a comfortable outsider. In her recent works, MacEwan inhabits the role of various forms of destruction within the natural world, such as meteorites, volcanoes, dead animal skin and glaciers as a way to reflect on what it means to be human in the age of the Holocene Extinction. MacEwan is a current BRIC Media Arts Fellow. Her work has been exhibited at The Australian Consulate-General (NYC), Pioneer Works (NYC), LMCC (NYC), Victori +MO (NYC), The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (NYC), Governor’s Island Art Fair (NYC), The Melbourne International Arts Festival (Australia), Gertrude Street Projection Festival (Australia), and Arquetopia (Mexico).

Sara Tirelli (1979) is a filmmaker and visual artist whose work lies along the border between art and cinema. Her videos and artworks have been featured in several exhibitions and festivals including Q16.Quadriennale d’Arte of Rome, 12th International Architecture Biennale of Venice, Rotterdam Film Festival. Her artistic research explores the processes of visual perception and the links between technology, culture and media. Sara is currently working on a Virtual Reality installation within the frame of the Artist in Production Residence at Borås Konstmuseum, Sweden.



Re-Tooling Residencies: A Closer Look at the Mobility of Art Professionals. CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, 2011, p.16.

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