Sunday, May 29, 2005

Joy B moving

Ravens are my kind of birds, i think because I have a ghost of a raven sitting on my shoulder and he whispers in my ear things i shouldn't couldn't know. I am moving to the 4th floor, there i will scan for news and wisdom echoing from those naked mountains and the sounds of the ravens. So my best friends tend to be rare ravens, often referred to as white ravens.

Moving is art, specially when you have done a lot of it, the art of moving is being able to move between houses and no one really noticed, except your sore muscles and your plants. I hope this will be the last time for some time to be, i have moved so many times in my life, that i have lost count of it. Who cares anyway, the most important thing is the place you are living within at any given moment. Well those empty boxes are howling at me, and i got a mountain to climb.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Joy B loves Joy Division

One of the bands that had the greatest influence on me during my rather stormful eventful sometimes dark teenage years was Joy Division. I would sink myself into the current of the music, try to pull out the lyric poems and feel as if this music was the only thing that was the same entity as I was during this time. As if it has a life on its own and was the only voice that understood the dark corridors of my soul. Much later I have realized that this band has in its invisible way had more influence on both what I do as a writer, specially the lyric poems of Ian Curtis and what I have been drawn to listen to ever since.
A few months back I went on a great nostalgia trip when it comes to music from the past. I downloaded all those bands I had on vinyl in some box, including Joy Division, and they are still totally cool. The music, the words, the voice, and through this unique sound and feelings they have influenced most of the musicians that play real music: and how much less music would be today without the existence of Joy Division......

Tomorrow night there will be a Joy Division tribute at Gaukur á Stöng, with some pretty fantastic musicians. I was asked to put together a couple of posters for the event and while I was at it I suggested I would read the poem lyrics to New Dawn Fades. A brilliant poem; a foreboding perhaps for what to come. I am both rather stressed to read it and looking forward to it. It is part of my mission to open people’s eyes to the fact that poetry is part of our lives in a far less serious manner than they think they are.

Here are the posters, if you are in Iceland, you have to come.... it will be unforgettable.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Within the Belly of the Beast - America Vs. America

Interview with Trygve Svensson and Cristoph Fielder By Birgitta Jonsdottir published in the Reykjavík Grapevine yesterday

The American flag was flapping in the wind at the entrance of Klink & Bank. Looking closer at it I noticed that the stars had been replaced by corporate logos known to all of us. Inside I found political art at its best: thought provoking, funny, ironic and inspirational. America vs. America is an attempt shatter the illusion that all Americans are right wing neo-conservatives or a mindless flock of sheep with the glare of Fox news shining in their eyes.

We are witnessing liberal rights being chipped away to protect us from hidden enemies. In the USA of today, many outspoken artists are experiencing for the first time since the McCarthy era that they are being censored or even threatened because of their artistic expression.
The opening night of the exhibition had some interesting things to enjoy; most notable was the performance “Mumia” by the Busted Chairs Theater Project. Mumia is a play questioning the judicial system in the USA and capital punishment through the case, trial and work of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an award-winning Pennsylvania journalist who exposed police violence against minority communities. He has been on death row since 1982, despite evidence that proves he was wrongfully convicted of the shooting of a police officer. For the last 23 years, Mumia has been locked up 23 hours a day, denied contact visits with his family, had his confidential legal mail illegally opened by prison authorities, and put into detention for writing his first of three books while in prison, Live From Death Row.

Beyond “Mumia”, the America vs. America exhibition offers different aspects of art in a political context: American political art, the documentary; “Should we save this empire?”; performances and workshops, but first and foremost; A Peace Project.

What inspired you to put this exhibition together?
Christoph Fielder: I have been politically active for the last ten years, founded the Swedish division of Adbusters and worked as a managing director for Artduty. I think the idea came out of extreme frustrations about the current situation, the war against Iraq and I needed a positive outlet for those feelings. I wanted to be part of this growing movement of activists around the world and it somehow felt like the right thing to find out more about the counter culture of the USA. The people you usually never hear about in the world media. It was also a quest to find my personal connection between art and politics.

Trygve Svensson: I went to the Norwegian Social forum as a freelance journalist, but ended up as one of the participant. I felt it was impossible to be there without being part of it. I guess I have been living in my own personal bubble for a long time where politics didn’t interest me at all. By doing this I am at least doing something to inspire other people to do something.

Do you believe that individuals can make a difference in our world?
CF: I think it is impossible not to make a difference.
You can’t be neutral on a moving train, can you? (Ref. to Howard Zinn’s second book of the same title.)

Do you think that America is free in its current political landscape?
CF & TS: No, a lot of times we got shocked because we heard so many stories about people that had been put in prison because of their artistic or political actions. The similarities between the USA and Germany in 1938 are frightening. In the book Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in American by Bertram Gross you pretty much get the picture of that is going on in the USA today. The scary part is that it is already an empire but the Nazi Germans never got further than fantasizing about it.
Nevertheless, we believe that it is important to have a positive focus and underneath this senseless and negative surface there are a lot of positive things happening. We will in our lifetime see some radical changes and actions. We have all these groups working towards common goals in our world, at some point we will unify in similar but more sustainable actions than simple protests. The Internet has been a great connection point already to coordinate global actions. Activist are shaping the world on levels that are often not reported at all, fair trade did for example go up by 38% last year. One of the goals of this exhibition is to gather information, to come up with new ideas and to hook people up together. We aim to gather political art from each country we travel with this show and when we will finally bring it to the USA we will showcase something from each country, including Iceland.

What is your goal with this exhibition?
CF & TS: We would like to reach people and show the Scandinavians the diversity of the grassroots movement in America. We hope to inspire people from the USA and Scandinavia to work together. The artists in the USA need all the support we can give to them.

Why did it premier in Iceland?
CF & TS: Simple reasons we always wanted to go to Iceland and we know that there is quite an active art scene but according to Eva the political art scene was very hidden and weak. We wanted to inspire artists to be political in their work and we feel optimistic that this exhibition might have got something going because most of the people attending the workshop are graphic artists.
We need art to express diversity really clearly. It is through our diversities we will survive as humankind. It is important to create a way to verbalize our thought and to raise our awareness. Art has a great role in opening up new ways of dialogue among the nations of the world.

CF: The artist Moa Salim expresses so clearly the role of art in the documentary Trygve Svensson is putting together “Should we save this empire?”
Art has the duty to communicate the uncommunicatable, as things that were allowed to be commutated expanded to everything, art almost lost its purpose. When you could talk openly about everything, why would you need art? Now we are going back to a time were there are things you can’t talk about – the era of black and white, with or against the terrorists. There are a lot of things we no longer can openly and freely discuss, which gives art another special place. These things can be perverted, manipulated and talked about. Which will allow the person to express herself without getting into trouble for that expression. So art is maybe finding a real true place in society again. There is a lot of good work to be done. It is indeed a time for celebration of the artistic expression. It has a role again.

the dead tern

Walking through the old cemetery last night with my friend, we saw a dead tern, it was a bit creepy. A victim to the graveyard cat. I have never seen a dead tern in the city. In Iceland we believe terns are a symbol of the spring (one of many).
Did this mean spring was dead, summer was officially here??? It was cold last night yet all of nature was forcing its green buds out of the cocoon of winter. Was this an omen of dreadful times to come??? No such feeling of doom. Terns used to attack me when I was a kid walking in the moor ..... one even got so close to make a hole on my head, needless to say they never used to be among my favourite of birds. However in the last years I have learned to love their beautiful dance in the sky and protective nature for their young ones. And here at the end of the world, any sign of spring is a welcomed signed. It is an interesting fact that no other nation in the world celebrates summer as early as we do. I have no idea why, maybe it is the daylight. Makes us all eternal optimists. Sort of funny to hear people say "Happy Summer" when it is still snowing.......

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Joy B is a Buddhist

I don't remember how many times I have said to people; if I were to belong to any organised religion ever, than the only one that I could possible belong to would be Buddhism, because it is tolerant towards all other religions. And by some strange twist of fate I went with a friend to do some chanting and I had no idea it was a Buddhist chanting, it could have been any sort of chanting. I love to chant and make strange ancient sounds to get into that space of feeling my feelings. To ride the tide of joy with sounds and strange noises. As I was chanting with these people, it felt like I had done this all my life. I felt after months of feeling out of focus, in focus. My eyes were clear and bright again. And I was full of joy. I read some about this form of Buddhism and it was all common sense and felt like something I wanted to devote my energy and life to. And so it is that Joy B has a calling and her calling was answered and so she is taking this path, and if you ever hear strange sounds from her flat, it is only those ancient sounds that have found their runway into the big stream of sounds, a drop of crystal clear reason. I am devoted..... what a strange feeling it is.