For Friends from the video by Arna Valsdóttir

Performing Iceland


This summer I was lucky enough to participate in the express mobility course supported by the Norteas Nordplus network of Nordic and Baltic Performing Arts institutions in higher education which took place in the Iceland Academy of Arts, Reykjavík. The course Found Technique was taught by an Icelandic artist and teacher Egill Ingibergsson, participants were local Icelandic students and guests from Finland and Estonia.

Many things happened during the two weeks in Iceland, many of them related to the mentioned workshop but not all. Aside to the Found Technique I was - for example - establishing new friendships (usually seeing similar sentences about friendship makes me feel pretty nauseous but this time it really happened), searching for a cheap accommodation (and sleeping in the tent for most of the time), being impressed by Iceland and also conducting four unique performances – three of them outside of the frame of the course.

Remembering Iceland I presented on the top of the small artificial hill just next to the Art Academy itself. For this performance I mixed together several things which were important to me at that time. I felt strongly impressed by Icelandic nature and the overall environment of Iceland and Reykjavík whilst at the same time feeling disgusted (and also amused) by the way how tourists are ruining the country hand in hand with Icelanders willingly selling themselves to outsiders. This being said I should also add that I am not being judgmental as being a tourist in Iceland myself and as well fully understanding the strategy of locals – be in their position I would be doing the same.

I also shared some personal stories. About relationships, loneliness, sex, nature. In the end I invited spectators to witness an act of scarification – with a chirurgical needle I carved two squares on the backs of my palms as a remembrance of me being at that moment there, in Iceland with them.

My wish was to perform in other places in Iceland as well. Sometimes to be spontaneous pays. Luckily I found out that there is a performance festival happening in Akureyri, town which I wanted to visit anyway. In Akureyri I presented one long durational, conceptual performance within the frame of the A! Performance Festival and one spontaneous performance in the house of the local artist Arna Valsdóttir.

During the Crossing Eyjafjörður I was repeatedly crossing the bridge over the Iceland's longest fjord Eyjafjörður, wearing black clothes, walking in a neutral pace, not interacting with my surroundings. It was raining most of the time and my audience were predominantly car drivers passing by. The two kilometers long bridge does not have any pavement for pedestrians.

After a multilayered performance in Reykjavík and a minimalistic crossing in Akureyri festival the final piece in Arna's home was a rather unexpected, drunk and tired one. Looking from the perspective of the performance art genre that one was maybe the closest to the medium's unwritten rules. It was just me straightforwardly expressing myself, my thoughts and emotions in the given moment. And actually it was not so bad as you might expect.

I would like to sum up this short essay somehow but I am already over the word limit and still feeling underexpressed. Let me try at least. The experience was strong, it surprised me and I will remember it – not only because of the scars on my hands. And also - I found out how grateful I am it somehow happened to me that I am a performer.

Remembering Iceland. Still from the video by Ellen Virman

Crossing Eyjafjörður. Still from the video by Ellen Virman

Video compilation of three performances by Antonín Brinda made in Iceland between 21.8–3.9.2017 by student Ellen Virman.

Antonín Brinda
Live Art and Performance Studies
Uniarts Helsinki's Theatre Academy