Gentrification is not black and white – it brings the money as well as increases the rents, according to Reykjavik artist and gallery owner Ragnar of Bismut.

Ragnar, 32, had been running his space Bismut a cafe with art gallery in Reykjavik for five months when we interviewed him for Artist Run.

In his own work Ragnar works with found material from discarded electronics to make kinetic sculptures.

“Art is kind of a mirror of society, it kind of shows you the state of the society.”

“We try to keep the exhibitions pretty versatile working with up and coming artists as well as established artists.”

“If we didn’t have the coffee we would have to apply for grants and be dependent on the city or the government.”

“I’m hoping that it will become self sustaining and be able to grow on its own a little bit.”

He said that in the current economic boom in Iceland it is difficult to create artist run spaces.

“I think there will be good opportunities for artist run spaces in the next economic crash. Now there is not the buildings, they are being torn down because we are in an economic rise. When everything crashes again there will be opportunities.”

“There’s always room for more artist run spaces in Reykjavik and hopefully there will be the opportunity for that to happen.”

Ragnar said the art scene in Iceland is diverse, but on account of the influx of tourists and gentrification it is moving to the peripheries of Reykjavik.

He told us rents on the street of Bismut had gone up five fold for the kind of space they now occupy.

“The art scene and cultural establishment is really diverse, it’s really interesting there are a lot of things happening.”

“Most of the small spaces are losing their leases, so the scene is moving a little bit from the centre to peripheral areas. It’s funny to be on both sides, we are part of the gentrification with the cafe but we are trying to hold onto the past a little bit with the gallery space.”

Find out more about Bismut here: https://www.facebook.com/bismutreykjavik/.

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