N°100 The Freezer-VIDEONú Ninja Helga Mjöll
Located in a rural area of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland, The Freezer is a unique multi-awarded culture centre. It is in a town of 165 habitants called Rif, housed in a building that once was a fish factory, and offers a range of artistic experiences like a multidisciplinary art space, highly rated professional theatre, international artists residency as well as hostel accommodations.
We travelled to Rif and sat down with the founder of The Freezer, Kári Viðarsson, and asked him about how this project came about, how the experience has been and what is the ultimate goal for the work that he does.
As you will see in the video, Kári openly shares that it hasn’t always been easy, and some people thought he was crazy for starting an ambitious project in such a small community. But Kári was, and still is, determined to create unforgettable memories and quality art in a unique atmosphere. By now, the Freezer has established a name for itself and is now renowned for its live shows and innovative theatre productions. So, the idea wasn’t so crazy after all!
Further below in this article you will find more information about The Freezer, its art residencies, and the magical area around Rif. The video has English and Spanish subtitles. You turn on subtitles by clicking the CC icon on the video and set the language by clicking the gear icon. Hope you enjoy!
Rif is on the north side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula and far to the west, almost on the outer end (see image), about two and a half or three hour drive from Reykjavík. Being very exposed to the Atlantic ocean, the area is quite vulnerable for strong winds, but for the same reason it is a great location for fishing as you won’t have to sail far to reach fishing grounds. Rif is in fact one of Iceland’s smallest fishing villages.
The nature in Snæfellsnes is breathtaking and rich with wildlife. Aurora borealis is frequently spotted in this area plus you can find many different lava fields and caves, volcanic craters (including one that you can drive into), hiking trails, beautiful shores, waterfalls and so much more. But, in my humble opinion the most magical and stunning of it all is the Snæfellsjökull Glacier.
The ever so mystical glacier Snæfellsjökull (see image) towers over Rif in all its glory. It is 700.000 year old and 1.446m high and can sometimes be seen from Reykjavík, across the Faxa Bay. It is not only a glacier but also an active volcano. Although, it hasn’t erupted since ca. 200AD
Snæfellsjökull is mentioned in many tales and stories, sagas, and folkloric tales. Most famously it was the entrance to the centre of the earth in the Jules Verne classic novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It also played a part in the Blind Birds trilogy by the Czech science fiction writer Ludvík Souček, as well as in Under the Glacier by the Icelandic nobel prize winner Halldór Laxness.
One of the most famous folkloric tale of this area is Snæfellsáss saga by Bárðar, which tells the story of a creature half-human half-troll named Bárður, who became the guardian spirit of Snæfellsjökull. Along with this story, some people believe that the rock formations around the glacier are trolls who were touched by the sunlight and turned into stone. Other people believe that in those rock formations are elf habitats and one should be careful not to disturb their peace.
In 1993 thousands of people gathered in the area because they believed aliens would be landing there. The television channel CNN was even broadcasting live from the event. But, in the end nobody saw any aliens.
I must say that the charm of Snæfellsjökull glacier was not lost on me in our visit to Rif. I might even show up next time the aliens are coming…
Anyway, enough about elves and aliens and let’s talk about the artistic life surrounding The Freezer. As stated by Kári in the interview, The Freezer has become a part of the touring circuit of most musicians in Iceland. In fact it is the only culture centre on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, so there is always something going on; festivals, theatre shows and concerts but also movie-nights, pub quizzes and karaoke.
The theatre shows produced by The Freezer are mostly inspired by stories and sagas from West Iceland and are performed in english so the tourists can also enjoy.
A few years ago, Kári founded a street art festival in the neighbouring town, Hellissandur. During the festival international artists take part in making murals all over town. Now, with more than 30 huge murals, Hellissandur has more street art per capita than any other place in Iceland and has therefore been self acclaimed as the Street Art capital of Iceland.
Click here for more information about the Hellissandur Street Art project
The Freezer has a residency programme especially aimed at theatre makers, performance artists, dancers and musicians. There is a bit of a renting fee, but sometimes work exchange is possible. In those cases The Freezer offers the artists free accommodation and usage of their facilities in exchange for a bit of work in the hostel. It is required of all artists in residency that they share something with the community at the end of their stay. That could be hosting a workshop or presenting work to guests and locals.
Kári and his team are very informal about their approach to applications. They have an ongoing open call all year long, so the best way to get in touch with them is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. To apply, you simply send your CV, proposal and portfolio to the same email address. Projects are chosen for their compatibility to the community and to the Freezers objectives and capacity.
Click here for more information about the art residency in The Freezer
This video was produced by us, Nú Ninja Productions, and I want to acknowledge the wonderful team that made this happen.
Special thanks to Kári for being generous enough to share his journey with us and needless to say we highly recommend people to visit The Freezer.
As an artist, Kári is represented by the Móðurskipið agency. Click here for his profile.
A million thanks to Dagur Fannar Dagsson for video recordings and editing, Hrönn Blöndal for video recordings and Þóroddur Ingvarsson for sound recordings. Best team and travelling partners.
Extra footage was provided by www.thefreezerhostel.com and www.visitwestfjords.is Thank you for that!
Music is from http://uppbeat.io/t/pryces/back-home License code: TWYSHZAGTOUWUAXD
This is published as a part of the Nordic Art Sunday series by Nú Ninja and is our 100th post. More info about Nordic Art Sunday can be found here and here you can find previous posts.
This article is written by Helga Mjöll Oddsdóttir, the founder of Nú Ninja, who also conducted the interview.