The inspiration for the project Without Destination is the ever-increasing flow of domestic and international tourists through Iceland, whose presence raises persistent questions about the nature of tourism itself. What compels people to travel to unfamiliar places? How do people perceive their surroundings on tour? What is the relationship between image and experience? Numerous contemporary artists and scholars have studied the complex relationship between humans and the environment in this context, and their research sheds light on the many factors that contribute to the tourist’s experience. Without Destination offers audiences the opportunity to explore these ideas both through an exhibition where wanderlust, destination and the concept of place play a leading part and through a conference dedicated to nature-based tourism.
Wanderlust and the traveler’s experience of his or her surroundings during the journey mark the point of departure for Without Destination. The exhibition reveals how Icelandic and international artists work through different connections with locations and places, be they nearby or remote in space or time. Their works reflect ideas in contemporary art about travel, places and non-places, and the topography of the mind and of the landscape. They direct our attention to creative and personal conversations that emerge when we experience different places and shape our ideas about them. Many of the works depict Iceland and appear both familiar and uncanny to Icelandic eyes, illustrating how the diversity of experience impacts the depiction of a given place. The exhibition shows works by artists who attempt in various ways to transmit their experiences from elsewhere, while simultaneously creating a new experience for the spectator in the here and now—for as the saying goes, it’s the journey itself that matters, not the destination.
Practicing Nature-Based Tourism is an international and interdisciplinary conference dedicated to nature-based tourism and the discussion about Iceland as a travel destination. The conference will provide a forum for local and international researchers to present their research to the community. The speakers represent a variety of fields and include travel and tourism specialists, geographers, historians, sociologists, environmental scientists, art historians, and marketing experts in the travel industry. Following the scheduled talks, a panel discussion will address the challenges faced by Iceland as a travel destination, both in terms of where the country stands and where it is headed now as it is under pressure from an ever-increasing flow of tourists. The panel will be composed of chief authorities in the Icelandic travel industry, along with professionals in the industry and experts in the field. Papers will be given in English, and presenters will be encouraged to speak for a general audience; the panel discussion will be conducted in Icelandic. Following the conference, a special edition of the journal Landabréfið, the magazine of the Association of Icelandic Geographers, will publish selected papers from the conference.
Keynote speakers are: Lucy R. Lippard, writer, activist, curator, Galisteo, N.M., Professor Paul Cloke, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Professor Tim Edensor, Department of Geography & Environmental Management, Manchester Metropolitan University
Organizers of Without Destination are curator Markús Þór Andrésson and geographer Gunnþóra Ólafsdóttir, in collaboration with the Reykjavík Art Museum, the Reykjavík Academy and the Association of Icelandic Geographers. The project is funded by the City of Reykjavík, Reykjavík Academy, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the Nordic Culture Fund, and Promote Iceland.