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The Wall



NOTCH Festival

Qianmen Dazhalan Xijie

Tieshu Xiejie | 2011


Press statement from the Embassy of Iceland in Beijing 21 September 2011 about "The Wall": An Icelandic artist is working with the local community in the heart of Beijing to make a permanent art piece outside an old factory that has been turned into a gallery space facing one of Beijing's traditional Hutong neighboorhoods. Gudrun Kristjansdottir and her team are combining volcanic ash from the recent Eyjafjallajokull eruptions in Iceland with recycled broken glass from China to bring an image of the untouched nature of Iceland into the urban culture of the Qianmen area, just South of Tiananmen Square.

Gudrun has named the project THE WALL –local collaboration and mural installation with Icelandic volcanic ash and Chinese broken glass. In the art piece, shapes appear similar to those when snow white glacial cracks open under a blanket sheet of black ash. The factory wall rises above the traditional Beijing one level cobblestone courtyard houses and faces south. When the sun shines on the wall, the fragments of glass will glitter among light absorbing black volcanic ash.


Volcanic ash from the Eyjafjallajokull eruptions, which in April of 2010 left airplane passengers stranded across Europe, has become a commercial commodity sold in little jars as souvenirs. Gudrun chose to combine it with broken glass to highlight the importance of recycling in the urban sprawl of Beijing. In a recent interview, she said: "My work is based on recycling from nature: ash, and society: glass. I am bringing a fragment of an Icelandic volcanic glacier to a wall in the Dashilar area in Beijing. The inspiration comes from the regular outburst of Icelandic glaciers in recent years dumping the ash over the society, and glass as a waste in modern societies. I and my collaborators hope we will succeed to bring across the effects of yin and yang."

For over twenty years, Gudrun has been working intensively on projects in Europe, America and Asia as an artist, curator, editor, lecturer and leader of the union of artists in her home country. She has received many grants and awards, notably from the respected Pollock-Krasner Fund for her painting technique, which involves layering in developing of an old method. Her personal view on nature evolves around the constant weather and light changes in Iceland. She frames the everyday landscape of altering imprints and in aim of recreating the perpetual movement of nature she is merging medias. In her installation she intertwines paintings and videos, murals and light, reflections, wallpapers, sculptures, prints, photos and music to create an ambient environment, highlighting the complex relationship between perception, art and nature.


THE WALL is a part of NOTCH, a Nordic-Chinese cultural festival with the theme "Feedback" where social resources from the residential area create things that can feedback to the community. The Embassy of Iceland in Beijing is cooperating with the Festival. China and Iceland celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations this year.