Rekaviður – A Call to Action

Holding driftwood tree discs, is like holding the key to a saga. Driftwood tells the alarming story of our climate crisis, through it’s archive of ‘living data’. The colours, smell and touch of driftwood differ depending on the tree’s species. The numbers and shapes of the tree’s rings are keyholes to its past. The lighter rings grew during spring and summer, the darker rings in fall and winter, together they mark one year in the tree’s life. Trees can live for hundreds and sometimes even for thousands of years. The rings’ shapes indicate wet, dry, cold and hot years, early frosts, forest fires and much more.

When trees become driftwood, the archive of their former living conditions remains intact. The driftwood we will be collecting, travels for several years and thousands of kilometers from Siberia until it reaches the shores of Iceland. Driftwood is an inherent part of Icelandic history and culture and particularly suitable to explain climate change data, as it contains detailed climate records as well as information on changing oceanic currents, sea ice and sea levels. Driftwood also reminds us of one of the tools we have to fight climate change: afforestation.

Rekaviður is an educational research project on climate change through the eyes of the journey of driftwood, as well as a call to action for greater awareness of climate change and how we can prevent further damage. Rekaviður will culminate in the presentation of an exhibition at Nes Artist Residency in the fall of 2021 and creating a website, which will offer insights into Iceland’s relation with driftwood, show facts and figures on climate change that are contained by driftwood and explain the importance of afforestation projects for a climate neutral country. The exhibition is designed as a touring exhibition for other municipalities in Northwest Iceland, where most of the driftwood can be found. The website will offer more background information e.g. in-depth interviews and videos on the research topics of the exhibition. The website will also contain an open source guide for groups, initiatives and municipalities eager to engage in climate protection and to fund afforestation projects. It will feature a downloadable flyer of the educational exhibition and tips on how to turn driftwood into cutting boards, coasters, key holders, etc. Participating groups, initiatives and municipalities are encouraged to design their own driftwood objects, attach the flyer, mark them with the Rekaviður logo and sell them to locals and tourists. Profits from Rekaviður sales are expected to be used for afforestation projects, helping Iceland to become climate neutral before 2040.

Rekaviður was initially conceived by Kollektiv Lichtung and is realized in partnership with NES Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland and in cooperation with the University Centre of the Westfjords. The project is funded by Loftslagssjóður, rannís.