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Hamur Beroki
Hamur Beroki

A project by Laurita Siles with Elías Knörr and Edurne González Ibáñez.
“Hendur á hreyfingu, ofin framtíð // Moving Hands, Weaving Futures”
The Factory Art Exhibition. Djupavík (Iceland)
Jun 1 - September 30, 2024 - OPENING EVENT Saturday, Jun 1, 9PM

I am pleased to announce the participation of my project “Hamur Berokia” in the annual group exhibition to be held at The Factory Art Exhibition, a former herring factory located in Djúpavík, Iceland. This exhibition, curated by Emilie Dalum and entitled “Hendur á hreyfingu, ofin framtíð // Moving Hands, Weaving Futures” features 10 women artists from different parts of the world. The opening will take place on June 1 and the exhibition will be open to the public during the three summer months.

After receiving the invitation to participate in this collective exhibition, I immersed myself in an exhaustive research on the history of this place. In April 1615, three Basque whaling ships set sail from Donosti-San Sebastian to Iceland in search of whale blubber. However, they were involved in one of the biggest crimes in Icelandic history, when 31 Basques were murdered by local peasants in the region, where The Factory Art Exhibition is now located.

During this research I visited the Factoría Marítima Albaola a in Pasaia, where I discovered the intimate relationship between sheep wool and whaling in the textile industry of the seventeenth century. The wool, nicknamed the “white gold” of Spain at that time, needed large quantities of soap for its processing, being made with whale oil. Inspired by this finding, I decided to capture it in a singular
sculptural piece: a coat. I used the wool from my own sheep from the Mutur Beltz project to design this coat, which takes the distinctive shape of a whale’s tail on its back. This aesthetic choice, which subtly evokes a “bata de cola”, the characteristic flamenco dress that pays homage to my Andalusian roots, also symbolizes the fusion of two worlds: Basque and Icelandic, two minority languages that embrace their respective cultures in our contemporaneity.

In this sense, I asked my friend Elías Knörr, a Galician poet and translator living in Reykjavik since 2001, to write a poem for the project. Elías and I met as Erasmus students in Reykjavik that same year. Elias proposed to create an Icelandic-Basque neo-pidgin, inspired by the 17th century pidgin used by Icelandic locals and Basque whalers. Before arriving in Djúpavík, we visited the library of the Árni Magnússon Institute of Icelandic Studies in Reykjavík together, where we collected phrases from an 18th century manuscript to embroider on the piece, adding another level of meaning.

I have also counted on the collaboration of my friend and artist Edurne González Ibáñez, who has accompanied me in this adventure and has documented the process through photography and video.

With this project, I seek to explore cultural connections and reflect on the relationship between humanity and nature, as well as between history and the present. “Hamur Berokia” is an attempt to embroider history with words, creating a dialogue that transcends borders and time. It also highlights the connection between the whale and the sheep, underlining the exploitation of the animal resources with which we coexist.

Iceland holds a very special place for me as it has witnessed crucial moments in my artistic career. From my first solo exhibition in Reykjavík in 2002, while enjoying an Erasmus scholarship at Listaháskóli Íslands art school, to a decade later, in the spring of 2014, when I participated in an artist residency at Gullkistan, a creative farm in Laugarvatn. During the latter trip, I learned spinning and other artisanal processes of wool working, experiences that led to our life project, Mutur Beltz, focused on the recovery
of Basque wool from an artistic perspective. Leaving Iceland in 2014, I shed tears; I thought I would never return, considering myself fortunate to have visited this magical and inhospitable place, twice in my life. However, receiving this invitation has been a gift that has allowed me to continue researching, creating and immersing myself in this environment that has been a constant source of inspiration and learning.

Emilie Dalum discovered my work while researching artists from the Basque Country. This search was prompted by the close collaboration between The Factory Art and the Basque Association of Iceland, which plans to establish a Basque Exhibition Center in the former fish oil tanks of Djupavik by the summer of 2025. To coincide with this exhibition, the inaugural symposium of the “BASQUE CENTRE 1615” will be held in Djúpavík from June 6 to 9, 2024.

The combination of my work related to Basque culture and my approach to handicrafts from Mutur Beltz was what led Emili Dalum e to consider that my participation would be valuable for this upcoming
event in Djupavik.

The exhibition features the participation of outstanding artists from different parts of the world: Jonna Jónborg Sigurðardóttir (Iceland), Kadri Liis Rääk (Estonia), Karni & Saul (UK), Kathy Clark (USA/ Iceland), Katrín Þorvaldsdóttir (Iceland), Laurita Siles (Basque Country) along with Elías Knörr (Iceland) and Edurne González Ibáñez (Basque Country), Nikki Ummel (United States), Penelope Payne (United Kingdom), Raimonda Sereikait-kiziria (Lithuania/Iceland) and Wanxin Qu (China).