Ólöf Nordal is an Icelandic visual artist based in Reykjavík and a professor of fine art at the Iceland University of the Arts. In her work Nordal deals with Icelandic history and the collective memory of a nation in a critical and analytical way. Her artistic research has been focused on the self-identity of a nation in postcolonial times, the origin and the reflection of national motifs in the present and the fragment as a mirror into the past. 


In 1856 an expedition led by Jérôme Napoléon, crown prince of France, travelled to Iceland and Greenland. The explorers‘ aim was to document and research life in the far North. Samples and data were collected on natural resources and climate, lifeways and culture. One element of the data collection was a study of the native population, and plaster casts of selected Icelanders and Greenlanders were made during the voyage for anthropological purposes. After the prince’s excursion was concluded, the fruits of the journey were put on display in the Palais Royale in Paris under the title Musée Islandique. The plaster images are preserved in storage by the Musée de l’Homme, Paris and El Museo Canario, Las Palmas.