‘Ge9n’ (“A9ainst”) surveys many pressing and intertwined social, economic, and environmental concerns needing in-depth and interdisciplinary re-evaluation now. Yes, now.
At the height of the post-kreppa “pots and pans revolution” of 2008/9, nine individuals were charged with attacking the Icelandic Parliament. Citizens from many backgrounds, ideologies, and persuasions rose their voices as one to contest the singling out of these individuals through such a significant charge, and this voice asked, “Why them and not us?”
Why were these nine individuals targeted and charged? What possible usefulness does the public persecution of nine individuals through Icelandic media serve, and who is it meant to serve?
What comes of the failure of a public system that pushes an “erroneous” case through its court system? What is the fall-out to the Icelandic legal system? How could this difficulty be turned to societal benefit, where the court case provides an opportunity to address pressing issues?
Through sequential interviews with the nine individuals, ‘Ge9n’ boldly presents a myriad of urgent, ethical considerations relevant to the larger Icelandic society. The documentary raises questions around Iceland’s possible xenophobia, the implications of nationalist-socialist tendencies, a co-dependent and floundering capitalist system, and the anthropocentric pitfalls and hubris attached to ownership of environments.
Director Haukur Már Helgason has previously and collectively pioneered alternative community actions through the Nýhil Poetry Collective and online political commentary magazine NEI. These past ventures and consuming passions of Haukur’s inform the documentary’s structure and content, creating socio-politically urgent art or perhaps a sociopolitics formed through years of communitarian and activist engagement.
As the film opens, print layers over itself and pulses larger than life, its wordplay and interpretation accessible through concise vocabulary. Later, newspaper clippings amass over moving image, an obscuration of reality by re-presentation through media.
‘Ge9n’ sizzles with a soundtrack of experimentation designed by producer Bogi Reynisson, including the cut-up and collagist sound poetry of Jón Örn Loðmfjörð; excerpts featured in the soundtrack are from his epic poem recently exhibited in Nýló’s group show ‘Koddu.’
Arguably the most daring and jolting moment in the film is a Cage-ian screech carried through many solo voices. The viewer has time to move through “who?,” “what?,” and “why” during its duration, and the multitude of interpretations from this singular gesture leaves a body opened, angered, upset, ready to act, eager to respond.
So raise your voice. Let it out. Push against; push through. Stop it. Change this. Watch ‘Ge9n’. Question. React. Discuss.
Most importantly, do something.