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Contemporary art has played an essential role in the construction and representation of cultural identities and nation branding in Iceland. Sustained by a semi-fictional, genealogical art historical narrative, the patriarchal role of Dieter Roth (1930-1998), as the grandfather of Icelandic contemporary art, is undoubted and has inspired practices of several young artists in Iceland, such as Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976), who acknowledges Roth as a decisive influence and role model for the Romantic self-reflectiveness that characterizes his work. In this article, I will demonstrate how Kjartansson’s celebration of the Überkünstler, and his “mythisising” of Nordic cultural tropes interferes with a certain idea of the “creative North,” currently used by governmental bodies to reinvent and sustain a political idea of the North, not only as a place of abundancy, creativity, and freedom, but also as a laboratory of democracy and scientific research.

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