Archives: March 2013

Coming Up

Choreographers Katrín Gunnarsdóttir and Melkorka Magnúsdóttir from Samsteypan Collective, a dance company based in Reykjavík Iceland, are premiering a new dance piece called Coming Up tonight March 22nd in Tjarnarbíó theatre. Team Snoop–Around saw their piece ÚPS! last year, and were so impressed that we surely didn’t want to miss out on this one. We dropped by Tjarnarbíó and met with professional dancers and choreographers Katrín and Melkorka.

So, what can you tell me about your dance company, Samsteypan Collective?

Melkorka: Many independent dance groups often produce various projects; as does our company that shares each and everyone’s member’s interests. So Samsteypan is exactly that.

Katrín and me had been thinking about this idea for this piece for a long time, or for roughly three years, and now we had the change to add this project in to our year schedule, with support from our dance group Samsteypan Collective.

What can you tell me about the piece, Coming Up?

Melkorka: It’s a dance piece where the search for the climax is always present. We wanted to explore how a piece can build up, without going all the way, sometimes the situation is that we are working with two climaxes at the same time that always has the same fate, it fades out without success.


The concept, beginning, middle and the end, what are your thoughts about that?

Melkorka: This is something that we learn in choreography 101, you learn about the importance of having a build up in a piece, sometimes its said that if the beginning and the end is good, it’s OK that the middle is mediocre. Of course there are very strong stereotypical ideas around on how one should build up a piece. Clichés are clichés because they work.

That is the reason why, its maybe kind of dangerous and also very exciting to create a dance piece that is not like that at all. To try to go out of this box, and create something new and unpredictable. I think this Anti- climax is very interesting in a way; this deconstruction has been so intriguing for us to take on.

What can you tell me about the set design?

Melkorka: We wanted to have the stage fairly simple, we have one little grass spot on the stage with a lot of instruments, a synthesiser, and a computer so we are also creating the sound world in the piece ourselves. We started out to have elements with us on stage in the practising period, a pot plant, a lamp and other small elements. We wanted to frame the piece with this white dance floor, to separate us from the audience, to make this world within the theatre.


Are you both very musically involved?

Melkorka: I started out by bringing my keyboard, and then we wanted to add voices and other musical elements to the piece. This sound world is not written especially for the piece like we have been doing in the past, but we use sound examples from Edward Grieg mixed with synthesizers sounds. We are also working with the anti- climax in this piece as well, because classical music is all about fiddles and the highest points (the climax) but the techno music is not. The techno, in a historical sense, was about repetition and speed, sometimes working with just one tone.


Photograph: Bart Grietens

You have a lot of instructions on the floor, lines and arrows…

Melkorka: Yes, this is our internal instructive map and play with the memories on what spots are the most important in the piece. We started out by objectifying the climax and walked around the stage, discussing where we should place it. We have also played on this idea about the climax in a historical context.

If we would talk about ballet for example, the climax itself is very literal; everything evolves around lifting your partner and getting as high in the air as possible. In modern and contemporary dance, then it can be exactly the other way around, by the power of repetition. On the other hand, in modern dance the endurance pieces were made in its time as well, with no climaxes

I am curious, do you work with a director?

Melkorka: No, we decided to direct ourselves this time around. Samsteypan Collective has worked a lot with the director Víkingur Kristjánsson for the last two pieces we produced and that was fantastic.

Katrín and me worked on an intimate level for this piece, where we dug up our original idea and we wanted to focus on the dynamic between us two in the piece in a stripped down way.


Photograph: Bart Grietens

Have you worked on a piece together before?

Katrín: We are both independent professional dancers, and we have worked together several times with bigger groups but never as a duo. Now we finally both had time to make it happen and we are very happy about that.

There are pros and cons that come with working independent, it is a great experience to work in a theatre that we have freedom to operate as we please. But the downside is that in bigger theatres you have more people and production departments, make up, costumes and all kinds of support. When you are independent, you are creating and producing everything on our own. But of course we have great people behind us.

Melkorka: Independent dance companies have been seeking unconventional spaces like empty factories and such but that is also very expensive to import a sound system, lighting and all that we need for a dance piece production. That is expensive and troublesome in many ways. So we wanted to create a piece here again in Tjarnarbíó theatre, in a classic black box, with the strategy of challenging the theatre format, within the theatre itself.

What is the most exciting factor in this piece, if you could phrase that in one sentence?

Melkorka: This mountain climbing towards the climax, and the fate of the situation always continuously falling down.

Katrín: This examination of this human interaction, and this disfunctional communication, that is the most exciting part.


Photograph: Bart Grietens

Coming Up is premiered March 22nd 2013 and will be shown on March 23rd, March 26th March and March 28th at 21:00. We would like to point out that there will be only these four performances, so please check out tickets on here

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Ása Baldursdóttir

Siggi Palli

Team Snoop-Around parked outside Mótorsmiðjan for an interview, the second home of artist Siggi Palli, who greeted us with great respect. The atmosphere inside was nice and cosy, and we sat down in the Café area for a chat, we wanted to know a thing or two about Siggi Palli´s lifestyle, artistry and views on the Icelandic motorcycle culture.

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I wonder, have you always been artsy?

I have been drawing since I was a little kid; it was my medium when I expressed myself. I mediated both joy and anger through art, once when my father was strict with me I drew a pretty libellous picture and gave him. He still owns the picture. So, when I needed to get something out of my system I drew it away.

When I was older I was a student at the Icelandic Academy of the arts, but I didn’t connect with the format of creating art daily from 8-4, and to hand in projects on deadlines and so forth. It killed my drive for some reason. We learned Art History, where we studied paintings made by the old masters, and I was sure that I would never paint like that. The comparison didn’t make sense to me at the time.

I didn’t mange to finish school, so me and my friend decided to get a job on a ship, that sailed us to Greece, where we stayed for some time for we wanted to experience something new and adventurous. When I came back I didn’t touch a pencil or a brush for years though.

“a documentary, Flúreyjar, about a small group of tattoo artists from Iceland”

So you have been working with film, I hear as well?

Yes, I had been doing that for years. I have for example been directing and producing music videos and various things. I was a gripper for years as well. I produced a documentary, Flúreyjar, about a small group of tattoo artists from Iceland, Fjölnir and Jón Páll, and a couple of other guys that went biking in Faeroe Islands. I have always been a big fan of the Islands, and Fjölnir even made me a tattoo as a thank you gift with the logo of the film after all this.

But yes, I have been directing and producing music videos with various artist from Iceland and Scandinavia; Dr. Spock, Eivör, Högni, Boys in a band and Rönbeck for example.

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So, when did you manage to get your mojo back?

Ten years ago, I started to see images again in my mind and got many ideas that I wanted to act on. I wanted to explore formatic elements and this need to paint gushed out so I started to paint a lot. When I had painted 20-25 large paintings, they started to get in our way at home so I figured that I had to exhibit then. In my exhibition 8 of 10 of my works were sold. So that gave me a boost on expressing myself artistically again. I painted when I got inspired, sometimes continuously for hours and hours. That’s the way I work, always.

I am currently also a drummer in a band called Þrusk. We are maybe not that known, but I can tell you that we were the first band to play on a snow stage up in Bláfjöll (Blue Mountains) as a warm up for the band Dr. Spock in the middle of the winter.

I have also been very much in touch with matters of the spirit. I hired my dad once to translate a book about Zen, called Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, a book about quality of life and things that matter the most at the end of the day. In Icelandic we would say that I was an fjöllistamaður – which means that I am somewhat a multi artist. I am not only focusing on one art form and that’s they way I am.

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When did you start tattoo artistry?

I am a member of a motorcycle club, and they were always looking for someone that was skilled and artistic with a needle. So they had been encouraging me for a long time to do it, I had been a fan of this art form for years and had many tattoos myself. My wife bought me a start up equipment for tattooing, and they boys in my club were excited enough to let me practise, so I did just that and on human skin as well so that was a huge advantage for me.

My brother was running this place Mótorsmiðjan, and was looking for a tattoo artist, so I started out here. I try to focus on the tattooing and not on the drawing, at the moment, Siggi my coworker is drawing a lot and he is very talented and fast. Then as time passed by, me and Haddi who is a leather designer (Haddi Dreki) decided to open this up as a social club for bikers, and all those interested in the culture and the rock and roll lifestyle. Our organization is called the Motorheads, and we have around 130 active members. All members are welcome to spend time here, and those who want to tattoo each other can go ahead to do so.

And over there, you can see that we have various instruments here in front of our Café. There are many members of the club that are musicians, so they are free to play, grabbing whatever instruments they want and jam a little here whenever they want. They can drink coffee, form bands, or just play live music. This is an open stage, always.

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But what can you tell me about the hair saloon corner that I see over there?

Smutty Smiff is one of the most kown rockabilly heroes in the world today. He has played in many well-known bands with many of the most famous musicians in rock history. He is running a small hair salon here, in this rockabilly style, and we are the only store here in Iceland that offer those hair products, brilliantine hair wax for hairstyling.

So what is this business here in Mótorsmiðjan about, in general?

We are mainly running this to support our club, so we can get by sustainably. But we also give money to charity, for example we gave 100.000. – ISK the other day to the Children’s Hospital, Hringurinn. I really admire what they are doing there, my son got sick once so I have personal experience. We chose this organization because we know that their operation is run by heart and honesty. But yes, in general this is a social community for us bikers, mainly men. Women are always welcome though of course.

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“You don’t want to break in here, we will find you
before the police does”

So what groups belong to Mótorsmiðjan?

I am in a club called Hrafnar for example and Haddi is in a club called Þeyr. But that has in itself nothing to do with Mótorsmiðjan, it is for everybody bikers and non-bikers. Even though Mótorsmiðjan is situated in a neighborhood where there a lot of people living, they residents seem to like it because they think its good to have a motorcycle club in their backyard so thief’s would be less likely to invade the area. We also have a sticker in our window that reads: “You don’t want to break in here, we will find you before the police does”.

We have a small flea market here with used bikers outfits. Sometimes people are kind to give us used things that we sell. All the profits go to the organization for the basic things we need to pay for, rent, electricity the Internet and phone bills. If we have profited more than takes to run this place on daily basis, we give the profits away to charity. So I could proudly say this is an way, the Icelandic Red Cross Motorcycle club, for this reasons.

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What can you tell me lastly about the negative image that is often portrayed of the motorcycle culture in the media?

I can understand this negative portrait for sure, because if there is a story in the news on motorcycles, it’s mostly a story about a car chase, crimes or some bad accident someone had. Also in films, if there is a motorcycle club, it contains flocks of criminals doing this and that so its not very positive, the image is in my opinion very crooked in media culture.

“95% of bikers here in Iceland are indeed boy scouts”

People that know this culture know that 95% of bikers here in Iceland are indeed boy scouts. I am not kidding; they are the nicest people that I know. There are guys on Jeeps that are criminals too; you can find them in whatever group in the society. Imagine a criminal that drives a Benz for example, he is hopefully not giving all Benz owners in Iceland a bad name? Right? Well that’s what I think anyways.

We would like to thank you so much, Siggi Palli, for this great interview and yeah, we should encourage everybody to come here to Mótorsmiðjan?

Yes of course. Everybody is welcome, even though there is mainly testosterone in the air. The members of the Harley Davidson club have regular meetings here as our motorcycle clubs Þeyr and Hrafnar. We have actors, musicians, hippies and bums; you just name it the different characters that pop by to see us. We have all the range here in Mótorsmiðjan, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

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We leave with longings for café hangouts, tattoos, paintings made by Siggi Palli and a curiosity to know more about the society that Mótorsmiðjan is.

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís
Photographs of tattoos: Siggi Palli