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  • Writer's pictureParadís Sessions

Sign of the times ⚓️

The situation here in Iceland is better than most, when it comes to #covid, but we're still relying on live streams and tiny gigs to get our live music rush.

We have things to look forward to - domestic restrictions continue to fall, with bars & other entertainment venues now open (húrra.) But for live music, there remains a physical void. What was once such a vivid part of our music culture is now just a gap.

Gamla Bío Empty
Gamla Bíó - Empty. Photo by Julie Rowland

This is best exemplified by an incredible new series of photographs that highlight the literal emptiness of the City's music venues. Reykjavík Music City commissioned local photographer, Julie Rowland, to venture out and portray the empty venues as they are - many of them still entirely closed until the latest restrictions lifted on Monday.

Gaukurinn empty
Gaukurinn - Empty. Photo by Julie Rowland

There is something stark and saddening about seeing the interiors in this way, not dissimilar to seeing your favourite grimy late night bar in the unassuming light of day and Julie recounts herself how surreal the situation was.

"It was very powerful to shoot long exposures in silent music venues. I have so many memories from all of these individual places over the years that have shaped me as a person, so it was very important to me to capture them in the right way. I owed them that. It was a difficult task to shoot empty spaces without making them look sad, but hopefully these pictures have an atmosphere to them that invokes hope for the future," she says.

Húrra music venue empty
Húrra - Empty. Photo by Julie Rowland

Of course, for many venues closed entirely, others have continued. Artist-led Mengi (as below) have been ever-present with live stream concerts, keeping the fire burning, and we've even seen a phoenix rise from the ashes during this enforced break.

Húrra, the much loved bar & venue closed during the Summer of 2019 to be replaced by a sports bar. From the image above, it seems work is well underway to recreating Húrra to its former, underground musical glory. We can't wait to be back.

Mengi empty
Mengi - Empty. Photo by Julie Rowland

The entire series of photographs can be seen in full on the Reykjavík Music City instagram here. You can check out more of Julie Rowland's photograph here and if you'd like more information about the Open Club Day project & Reykjavík Music City's part locally, you can also find more information here.

All photos & quotes used with permission of Reykjavík Music City.

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