While walking to the beach, Solveig points out that it is a strange human urge to go swimming in February! We are wearing big, warm, white onsies. Lasse and Jonatan had to wash them several times before they stopped smelling like fish; they were a gift from the fish factory. The white suits are just a shade darker than the snow. It is getting darker. I know that the ocean is somewhere beyond the bend, and I know that the road to Egilsstadir runs somewhere back that way, but from where I stand, I can’t see a single spot without mountains. The beach is black against the snow. Behind us is the junkyard with its little hills of snow-covered garbage. We have been cold all day. The snow is knee high. I absolutely never thought I would find this addictive! I am the last person to run into the water and I scream – like the others – when a wave hits my belly.
The road over the mountain is closed for the second time this week. Simon is actually cheering for the snow to continue so his flight to Denmark will be cancelled. This is what Seydisfjordur does to most people. It makes you want to stay longer – or to simply not leave.
Fridays seem to come around a bit faster here. And I find myself dancing to one of the best DJ sets I have heard for a long time. In somebody’s home. In a village of less than 700 citizens in the very east of Iceland. I don’t really want to stop, but I am really tired. So I engage in a conversation about the Light Festival, which will take place when the sun finally hits the town again in the end of February. The students pulled off a really good exhibition today!
This may sound really corny, but it seems as if the snowstorm outside has been reflected inside the studio. Suddenly the place is flowing with graffiti, drawing, painting, sculptures, photography… This week the students were told that they are artists. They don’t believe it yet. Probably some don’t quite dare to yet. All this art both gives and drains. I find myself thinking that any good piece of art contains a little piece of the artist’s soul.
This week’s first morning inspiration was an amazing drum piece by Midori Takada. ”To kick off a week with drumming as a theme”, says Jonatan. I think of that as Thorir runs around the kitchen yelling into a pipe; he sounds like a suffering elephant. Or, at the best, like a kid that just learned how to play the trumpet. We are writing an opera. I had never imagined that it would be composed in a kitchen. I play the chickpeas in a jar and sporadically echo the elephant. Siri plays a pot, Emilie drums on a cutting board, Fjola, Heidi, Maria and all the others set the beat. Travis directs it all – looking everyone intensely in the eye, signalling who should continue and running two fingers across his throat when we are to stop.
The intensity is just as high when the next day I hear us singing out our souls. I did not expect to become nervous at all. But now I find myself staring intensely at the lyrics. I’m not sure whether I would laugh, be embarrassed or feel proud if I met someone’s eyes? The piece is supposed to be as dissonant as possible, so I detune my note slightly from Hong Tai’s. Right behind me, Joss’ deep humming provides a safe base. The dissonance is more beautiful and comforting than I had expected! Everyone is exalted after the performance!
I’m so sad that I will miss the next exhibition. Tuesday’s visualizing sounds performance already looked promising. And the creative writing group seems to be touching on a lot of important stuff this week. I feel like we are about to finish a fast and long run-up, and I’m sure that the jump will be high, long and impressive!
Don’t forget: http://lungaschool.tumblr.com/
This week we were asked to trust our intuition. We were asked to embrace accidents. We experimented. Made a piece and then another piece – and then another. We were forced to take ourselves seriously. Were told that we are artists! We made our first collective performance. We pulled off a great exhibition. We almost snowed in, danced to concerts and an awesome DJ. And we celebrated fastelavn. Week four; you were such a smooth operator. More on Tumblr: http://lungaschool.tumblr.com/
For the past 3 weeks I have tried to write down what LungA is. What we are doing. Or what we are attempting to do. I have tried to capture the feeling, describe the nature, and put the magic on paper. I have given up a lot of times. But I have decided that it would not do this place justice to give up! So I have decided to share my thoughts with you. They are snapshots from the first weeks at LungA school. From a life in the small town of Seydisfjordur. Some stories are not even snapshots, but rather sketches. There is no story line. – Sometimes I have the feeling that yesterday is very disconnected from today. It is difficult to describe something that keeps changing. And to describe something I am not sure I understand myself? But here goes: snapshots from LungA:
As we drive into town, one of the first things I notice are the LED-lit red, blue and white crosses on the graveyard. They seem comical and misplaced in this majestic landscape. The snow makes them flicker – a bit like noise on an old TV screen.
I dreamt vividly last night. I guess I was just digesting everyone’s life stories. It is rare to have this kind of honesty in a group. We sat for 9 hours listening to each others’ stories. – and it seemed like every minute was essential. I, too, shared things about myself that I’m not sure that my friends know?
The worst part is actually getting out of the icy water. My toes, my feet, my shins – it feels as if a myriad of invisible fjord-creatures are now eagerly stabbing their little knifes into them. Hahahaaa! We’re all smiling and laughing!
The snow squeaks; a bit like cotton now. It gives me goosebumps. Just a few days ago my cheeks hurt from all the hail. Now, the world is white, bright and squeaky.
I think that part of what is unique about this place is that everything is possible. There are no real boundaries or barriers. Sure. You may not succeed. But if you don’t try, you will never know whether you may succeed. Being on shaky ground, you really learn.
I think we are creating a foundation by tearing apart the old one. Someone said that the amount of solids remain the same when you tear down a building – if you collect all the dust. I think we are tearing down buildings, and replacing the dust with new material to create a foundation that will be stronger than before.
I don’t believe that I will ever grow tired of looking at the mountains.
Stop! The silence is remarkable after 10 minutes of exhaling loud ”HUH”s, while thumping my heels rhythmically against the floor. So this is the actual meditation. I try my best to empty my mind… My arms hurt a lot. Someone breathes heavily. I focus on the now… Arh. Must take my arms down. Shake them… Breathe… Empty my mind. Slowly bring the arms up again. It was quite intense to be in a room with everyone screaming, yelling, singing. Blindfolded. I wonder how long it takes to learn to meditate?
Oh! Northern lights! We saw them last night. It was not as green as I thought it would be. It looked more like streaks of greenish drizzling snow. And then it danced! And a purple shade appeared. The moon was very clear and cast amazing shadows on the snowy mountains. It was every bit as amazing as I hoped it would be!
I started the day with looking 10 people in the eyes for 2 minutes each. Then I listened to Clara’s life story for several hours. And looked at the mountains. The day ended with dancing to a screening of a Talking Heads concert.
We are all here to be challenged. We talk a lot about life.
The atmosphere is different now. Quieter. More introspective. Intense. Vulnerable. Telling your life story to someone else takes courage. And it takes courage to realise what you left out. Why was that again?
The light is very blue today. Each day has its own blue colour; today it takes on a cold, light blue tone. The waterfalls have frozen again. It is as if someone took a photo of them, left it there and took the running water with them. Or stopped the time. But the running water is under the ice. I can hear it.
Just living together. Sharing mornings, evenings, thoughts, ideas. And going on a personal journey together. I think everyone is trying to get closer to some essence. The essence of art? Of thought? Of feeling? Of life? I’m not really sure. But it feels important to all of us. And the rest of the world seems very far away.
The sun is crawling further and further down the mountains. I can definitely see the difference. It is coming closer.
A new semester has started. We met only a few weeks ago. By now we have shared life stories, been continuously amazed by the mountains, swum in the icy fjord, paused, listened, laughed, yelled, fought in the snow, meditated, explored communication, been exposed to existential units of concentration, composed, found our Seydisfjordur soulmates, danced, dined, drawn and jumped. The world feels very near – and very far away. Maybe this is why we had a sci-fi party? We are electric and ready to erupt!