A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: The Holuhraun eruption is at it again
Culture
Art
The Christmas Cat

The Christmas Cat

Photos by
Hugleikur Dagsson

Published December 10, 2008

“We’ve got this database of monsters and creatures in our past. These stories are fascinating, it’s a shame that they’re not used more in modern culture,” remarked comic artist Hugleikur Dagsson in an interview this summer. The Grapevine promptly drafted Dagsson to illustrate a series of articles on these monsters of yore. For this ninth instalment in the series Dagsson depicts one of Iceland’s creepiest critters and the reason we sport cool new threads during the holidays; Jólakötturinn, the Christmas Cat.
    Jólakötturinn is a lovable, wholly unholy beast, a sort of proto-fashion police whose impeccable sense of style, in your face attitude and lack of respect for human life terrified Icelanders into stylistic submission in ways that today’s anorexia-inducing Vogues and Cosmopolitans can only dream of. The ginormous cat’s sole purpose in life is to eat children (and adults, some say) that do not get a new piece of clothing before Christmas. Yes, it devours financially disadvantaged children.This is the kind of message Icelanders like to send out in their folklore: if you do not have the money or means of acquiring new items of clothing before the festival of lights, you will be eaten by a gigantic cat. This is one of the reasons that Icelanders clock in more hours of overtime at their jobs than most European nations: to avoid the cat, we stayed up sewing or knitting in the olden days, and we stayed up graphic designing or stock-brokering in early 2008.
    Some versions of the Jólakötturinn story actually claim he did no such thing as eat kids, opting rather to steal all their food and holiday treats instead. While its a far cry better than chewing them to a bloody pulp and devouring their tasty flesh, its still real mean of him. Not much is known about Jólakötturinn’s origins, in fact a famous poem about him ny Iceland’s beloved bard Jóhannes úr Kötlum accurately proclaimed that “no one knows where he’s from or where he goes”.
    Although he is believed to have terrified Icelanders since the dark ages, written records detailing the murderous feline and its children-eating ways only go back to the nineteenth century. He is thought to be the house-cat of the evil troll Grýla (she also liked the taste of children – more on her in next issue), her troll husband Leppalúði and the non-trollish thirteen mischief-making Yule-lads in a cave somewhere up in the mountains. As far as we know, Jólakötturinn and his evil, biting teeth are still at large. Merry Christmas, everybody!



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

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Creator Of Hangman’s Darker Relatives

by and

Hugleikur Dagsson, the controversial cartoonist famous for his satirical comic strips which often depict stick figures in violent situations involving murder, rape, religion, cannibalism, incest and suicide, enjoys huge popularity in Iceland, as well as an international cult following. Apart from his comic strips, he has also published multiple books, written a couple of stage plays, produced his own television show and done some stand-up comedy. It may be hard to believe, but Hugleikur’s success came almost by accident. As he tells it, he was participating in an art show in Seyðisfjörður during the summer between his second and third

Culture
Art
<?php the_title(); ?>

Poet Tattoos Demand That Minister Resigns

by

Tuesday, August 12, 2014. Poet Bragi Páll Sigurðarson just disclosed his new tattoo. It is situated on his right thigh, just above the knee. Unlike most tattoos, this one is written in Times New Roman. One sentence, split in two lines, it reads: “Hanna Birna, segðu af þér.” That is: “Hanna Birna, resign.” Standard punctuation. The direct message is as clear-cut as the typography. The demand, of course, refers to the scandal surrounding Iceland’s Interior Minister in recent months, which has been duly covered in this paper. I caught Bragi Páll on Facebook to ask him some questions. Well, before

Show Me More!