A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Eruption Pollution Likely To Hit Whole Country

A beginner´s guide to Estonian culture

Published December 3, 2004

DARKNESS IN TALLINN by Ilkka Jarvi-Laturi
“What do we do now that we’re free?”
”I don’t know, go to work as always.”
The scene shows two working men discussing the benefits of freedom in the first film made in Estonia after independence. The story´s premise is a heist to highjack Estonia’s gold reserves upon their return to the country after independence from the Soviet Union. Directed by a Finn in 1993, it has a healthy dose of Tarantino but manages to convey a very Baltic atmosphere, and the gangsters Russianness makes them particularly menacing at a time before this became a cliché.
The protagonist is a man named Toivo, an electrical engineer assigned to black out the city during the heist. He initially takes part because the money will buy a lot of baby food, but then suffers a crisis of conscience. Despite a disappointingly upbeat ending, the film still manages to capture the hopes and disappointments of post-Soviet Estonia. And the gimmick of shooting the first half in black and white and then switching to colour as the lights go on is simply stunning. Darkness in Tallinn is available at video rentals such as Aðalvideóleigan at Klapparstígur and Toppmyndir at Sólvallagata 27 and Aðalvideóleigan at Klapparstígur 37.

The Czar´s Madman by Jaan Kross
The writer Jan Kross was born in 1920, the same year that Estonia first achieved independence. During the Second World War, he was arrested first by the Nazis and then by the Soviets for being an Estonian patriot. Upon returning from the Gulag in 1954 he became a professional writer. His novels are usually historical and often deal with the struggle of Estonians against Baltic Germans, a metaphor for Estonia´s struggle against the Soviet Union. The Czar´s Madman is perhaps his best known work. Set in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, it is a sort of historical 1984, where the only sane person in society is classified as a madman for his opposition to an unjust regime. But the fact that the book describes a society that has existed (and in the form of the Soviet Union still existed at the time) makes the prospect even more chilling than in Orwell´s dystopia. The Czar´s Madman has been translated into English by Anselm Hollo, published by Pantheon, and into Icelandic by Hjörtur Pálsson, published by Hólar.

Saatus by Kirile Loo
What will become of the nestlings?
One became the sun above the earth
The other the star in the sky
The third the headland in the field
The fourth the name of the meacow
Thousands of years before Björk´s primal masterpiece Medúlla, the Balto-Finnic cultures sang about the origins of the earth in runic verse. The runic songs were written in the Balto-Finnic proto language, before it branched out into different languages such as Finnish, Estonian and Karelian. The songs were ever-changing and were to some extent overtaken by folk songs written by the national poets of the 19th Century. But the form still exists, and perhaps is not all that different from its original version in the first millennium BC. One of the foremost interpreters of the Kalevala meter is Kirile Loo. She grew up with her grandmother in a village with no electricity, and learnt to sing from her grandmother before moving on to the Tallinn School of Music. Saatus, her 1997 album features such instruments as the kannel, the oldest Estonian string instrument. According to tradition, God made the kannel and the Devil made the bagpipes. Most non-Scots would be inclined to agree. Lobby our local record store for this or order it online.



Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Tying A Ribbon On Biophilia

by

Sitting upstairs at Iðnó, pouring out a cup of coffee in a fetching fluorescent yellow ensemble, an animated Björk is expressing how pleased and surprised she is that people still want to talk about her work. “I spoke to someone earlier who had been online researching all the Biophilia set lists and comparing them,” smiles Björk, “and I was like, ‘respect!’ It’s crazy that people actually still care, or can be bothered.” She hasn’t done a press day for three years. The last time seems a long time ago, back when Biophilia was being unveiled to the world—the album app

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Come Fly With me

by

Elvar Örn is a professional photographer and filmmaker with a passion for aerial photography. He’s traveled the world, from the deserts of Namibia, to icy Antarctica, and the highlands of Iceland. He’s explored a wide range of techniques in the art of photography, and he’s delved deeply into high-quality, archival printing processes. In collaboration with Gallerí List, select works of his aerial photography from the Icelandic highlands will be on display at Sólon Bistro starting September 15. I chatted with Elvar about his upcoming exhibition and his craft of printmaking more generally. Your passion is aerial photography. What drew you

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Go PONG Harpa Now!

by

Ever wanted to play arcade classic ‘Pong’ on the massive Harpa facade? Great, because until August 31st you can–so long as you have a smartphone. PONG is an interactive multimedia art piece by Atli Bollason and Owen Hindley. If you go to Arnarhóll (the grassy hill overlooking Harpa with a statue of Iceland’s founding father Ingólfur Arnarson at the top) you can log on to a special wireless network, join a queue and then take control of either pong-paddle by tilting your mobile device. The game itself is then rendered in real time on Harpa’s facade using the 714 LED

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

When Dreams Become Realities

by

In early 2012, 49-year-old Ármann Einarsson, a music school principal with a potbelly that he frequently, fondly, pats, sent a Facebook message to Brogan Davison, his son Pétur’s girlfriend, who is also a choreographer and dancer. “It said, ‘Hæ, Hæ: This is a formal request,” recalls Pétur, himself a theater artist and director. Having nursed a life-long dream to dance on stage, Ármann asked Brogan if she would be willing to help him achieve this goal. “I’d been thinking about dancing for so many years,” he says. “When I was sixteen years old, I loved going and dancing at balls.

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Everything Under The Little Sun

by

Internationally renowned artist Ólafur Elíasson has always been a fan of a spectacle. Whether he’s pumping tens of thousands of litres of water out of New York’s East River to form waterfalls, painting the rivers of Japan fluorescent green, or designing the façade of Reykjavík’s own concert hall Harpa, his art has always been imbued with a sense of extravagance. It may therefore come as a surprise that his newest venture is a relatively unassuming solar-powered lamp that measures roughly five inches across. Little Sun is the name he and his design partner—and the company’s co-founder—Frederik Ottesen gave the yellow

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

A Steady Heartbeat

by

The Reykjavík Dance Festival is no stranger to flexibility and experimentation. Founded in 2002, the festival has provided Icelandic and international choreographers an unparalleled platform to showcase their work to an audience that may not have exposure to the world of contemporary dance. In 2012, when the festival turned ten, the coordinating board decided to shake things up and began inviting guest directors to curate the future iterations of the festival. With different curators asking different questions, the festival’s flavour has been distinct each year. This year’s curators and joint directors, Ásgerður Gunnarsdóttir and Alexander Roberts have lofty, daring plans

Show Me More!