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During my stay in Iceland in the winter 2010/2011 two related community involvement projects took place which involved members of my family; my brother and my mother. Both projects are autobiographical and form the two parts of the project ‘importing a family in light, sound, taste and words’.

Part I importing a family in light and sound

In the Icelandic village in which my artist residency took place, the church tower acts as a light house, with a beam of light signalling out to the water. I was taken by the path of light that was created between the church and the sea and together with a local dancer and four teenagers choreographed a dance sequence during which we would carry fire frozen in ice blocks from the church to the sea - dancing. My brother, being a musician, flew in for this performance in order to play the organ.

Having started out as an audience seated in the church, the audience became co-dancers as they accompanied the dancers on their way to the sea, blocking traffic and fighting a storm.

As I had to leave Iceland on short notice for a visit in the US, I created a moving echo on the other side of the ocean at the same time at which the performance took place in Iceland.

Part II importing a family in taste and words

Ever since I left my parents’ house I have lived a geographically mobile life. My life is shaped by where projects take place and where collaborators live. Throughout all of those wandering decades, my mother has written me one letter per week, putting a sturdy storyline and a rhythm to my life. Whenever I visit my parents’ home, sharing food is how we perform the happiness of being together.

Having been in Skagaströnd, Iceland for the winter 2010/2011, I had felt nurtured by so many community members. Hence, reflecting on how the community that is my family still nurtures me in my adult years, I decided to bake cake which would be served on 519 napkins, each carrying the full name of a community member of the Skagströnd community on it. The event during which the cake was served was called ‘reading and feeding’ and more than 1/5 of the over all population of Skagaströnd took part in the event.

My father had recently retired and was chosen to hand write all names on the napkins; an activity during which he had to copy words letter by letter, as each name was a new word to him consisting of foreign letters. In an interesting way, this activity connected the first weeks of his retirement with his elementary school years of which he felt reminded. In turn, my mother and I baked together for two solid days, using various ovens in private households. Serving the cake took place in the joint art studio of Nes, transforming the studio into a space which echoed the sharing of food in my family.

The event was opened with a reading of excerpts from letters my mother wrote to me throughout the years. These were each read by my mother in her mother tongue (German), by me in the language in which I live my life (English), and by the site manager of Nes in Icelandic; the writings, hence, re-performed their travels between socio-geographical sites.