Reykjavík Reads 2016

Meira en 1000 orð mynd
Elías Knörr og Elín Edda við setningu Lestrarhátíðar

Elías Knörr and Elín Edda

Word and Visuals

In October 2016, Reykjavík Reads was held for the fifth time and the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature also celebrated its five year anniversary. The interplay of words and visuals, or images, was in focus, as we took a look at the many different manifestations of these two closely connected art forms. Imagery, visual poetry, comic art, illustrated books – the list can go on.

The theme was WORDS AND VISUALS under the title MORE THAN A 1000 WORDS. How does visual literacy help us understand and interpret the world and how does it connect to the art of the word? And in turn, how do images and imagery give wings to our language and literature?

Pictures contain many words and words can also create and contain visual images. We often think of these forms of communication as separate or even opposites but that is not the case at all. The festival theme was colored by this believe, we took a look at different connections between words and images – comics, visual poetry, slam-poetry, imagery of all kinds, illustrated books, narrative visual art, the words within the visuals and the visuals within words.

As always, the festival progamme was aimed at people of all ages.

Reykjavík Reads is a grassroots or participatory festival, meaning that all those who organize or host events that fit the festival theme can ask for those events to be included in the festival programme. We therefore encourage artists, companies, associations, institutions and others to contact us at if they want to contribute to the programme each year.


Sometime someone said that poetry is visual art. Sometime someone showed us that visual art is in fact poetry. Visual art depicts poetic connections that even the most eloquent poets do not manage to capture. Not even in the smallest of poetic forms. Poetry brings about visual connections that even not the sharpest visual artist can capture. Not even on a page in the tiniest of sketchbooks.

We think in images. We give words to thoughts.

In a single line of a poem all the angels of heaven can fall into the arms of all the devils of hell, where they rise up from the visual surface – whether it is to be found on a wall, a canvas, in a comic or on a screen – and it doesn‘t matter if the line is put forward verbally, in written form or in a song.

Apples taste just as good whether they are phrased or drawn.

House. Cloud. Chair. Finger.

Sjón, 2016 – writer and the first chairman of the Reykjavík City of Literature board

(Translated by Kristín Viðarsdóttir)



The Reykjavík City of Literature celebrated its five year anniversary in the fall of 2016. On this occasion, fourteen artists, two by two, created seven pieces of art that captured the theme of the 2016 Reykjavík Reads Festival – words and visuals. These works were displayed in different places in the city.

The artists were Alda Björk Valdimarsdóttir and Sveinbjörn Pálsson, Atli Sigþórsson (Kött Grá Pje) and Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir, Eva Rún Snorradóttir and Björn Þór Björnsson (Bobby Breiðholt), Elías Knörr and Elín Edda, Ewa Marcinek and Wiola Ujazdowska, Jónas Reynir Gunnarsson and Lára Garðarsdóttir and finally Kári Tulinius and Ragnhildur Jóhanns.

These works were put up on walls on Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavík, by the café Kaffi Vest in the west part of town, at a small shopping centre in Arnarbakki in the suburb Breiðholt, on the University of Iceland‘s School of Education‘s building in Stakkahlíð, on Laugardalslaug swimming pool on the east side of town, on Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina by the Old Harbour, and finally a video work was shown at the Reykjavík City Library in the suburb Grafarvogur, in movie houses and on the City of Literature‘s website.