Culture
Making Of An Artist: Butoh, Galaxies & Imperfection With Gyða Valtýsdóttir

Making Of An Artist: Butoh, Galaxies & Imperfection With Gyða Valtýsdóttir

Photos by
Antje Taiga Jandirg (paint by Ásta Fanney)

Published September 20, 2017

Gyða Valtýsdóttir was a founding member of múm, and is a cellist, collaborator and solo artist, currently releasing on Smekkleysa and figureight Records. Here, she shares some things that helped her become the person and the artist that she is today.

Hafiz
Hafiz is a 14th-century Persian Sufi poet. His poetry has so much light and humor.
Once I sank really far down & he threw a rope to me, through seven centuries. I caught it and he pulled me closer and whispered into my ear:
“Your heart and my heart
are very very old friends.”

Kantsugi (and wabi-sabi ) – The Beauty of Imperfection
Kantsugi is a traditional Japanese art form wherein broken ceramics are repaired with gold lacquers, with the belief that in breaking, we become even more beautiful—aesthetically pleasing & philosophically sublime.

Alejandro Jodorowsky
It is more his nonfiction writings which have inspired me—writings on psycho-magic, tarot, ancestry, and his incredible biography. His spiritual approach to life is raw, free, sexual, humorous, scary and magical. He embraces all the colours, then adds some extras.

Quantum Physics & Galaxies
I gotta think big
i gotta think tiny
to know my size
without the ego
it is
universal
(From Space Theme 2001)

My Family
I’m deeply grateful for my fantastic family; they are so fun & loving. On New Year’s Eve we have themed costume parties. Once an Italian brother-in-law spent the holidays with us. He’s gay and his family did not accept that. So my family made a rainbow pride party with unicorns, Peter Pan and all kinds of gentle-ladies and men and anything in between. He was thrilled!

Gagaku
This odd ancient imperial court music from 7th century Japan has followed me for years. It does not really touch my heart, but surrounds me in strange ways. Sparse drums, high flutes and strange wind-drones add a lovely royal oddness to my everyday reality.

Anne Carson
She thinks far outside any boxes and follows no “forms.” She mixes poetry, diary, history, facts and fiction beautifully together. She translated the fragments of Sappho poetry and placed them with all the silent white gabs, and in the brilliant ‘Autobiography of Red’ (her book that most resembles a novel) she turns a winged mythological figure into a modern gay teenage boy. I love her mind, and what it does to mine.

Agnes Martin
I saw her exhibition at the Guggenheim, spiraling down her lifespan of work. She really moved me. Her thoughts and writings on art are crystal clear mysticism. Every so often, while I do my work, she whispers to me: “Just listen… don’t be in the way girl.”

Sergei Parajanov – The Color of Pomegranates (1968)
I got to know of the Armenian film director Parajanov when I lived in Russia in 2004. During his life, Soviet authorities repeatedly persecuted and imprisoned him, partly for his homosexuality, and his movies were suppressed for their lack of social realism. I’ve watched the film ‘The Color of Pomegranates’ so many times, and make my friends watch it with me, to borrow their eyes. I feel in love when I watch it. Once a woman was seducing me, I was reluctant. Than she put this movie on, what can I say? … she found my sweet spot.

Josephine Foster – Hazel Eyes I Will Lead You
As I studied classical music in Switzerland I sometimes got disconnected from my core. I would take long walks and listen to this record, and her spirit would remind me of who I am. In 2012 we met by chance in Istanbul and she invited me to play with her. We’ve been extremely close ever since and I’ll always love her.

Butoh
Once while dancing I touched a man who was both solid and liquid at the same time. I felt I could melt into him and I felt our bodies spoke a mutual language. I asked him where he learned to move, and he said Butoh. So I started taking classes for a couple of years, and it has shaped my body and mind. It reconnects us to the nature inside of ourselves, the animal and its organic movements. You slow down until time disappears and you give up your mind.

Read the makings of more artists here, and more about Gyða here.


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