From Iceland — Making Of An Artist: Achromatopsia & The Man On The Moon With Árni Vilhjálmsson

Making Of An Artist: Achromatopsia & The Man On The Moon With Árni Vilhjálmsson

Published July 17, 2018

Making Of An Artist: Achromatopsia & The Man On The Moon With Árni  Vilhjálmsson
Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Árni Vilhjálmsson is an established artist, musician and actor in Iceland. He was a member of the legendary electro party-band FM Belfast before he quit to focus on his solo career. Now he is preparing a new album under the name Árni Vil that will be released later this year.

Needless to say, several people have inspired me through the years. These are some of the ones that currently occupy my mind.

I’ve gone through phases where I fanatically listen to one artist. I also like watching documentaries about them. Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) was an influence and the one about Townes van Zandt – there are some similarities between those two. They’re both talented musicians who didn’t make it to the mainstream, but most singer-songwriters still want to write music like they did. Eccentrics that died from alcoholism before reaching 50. Another documentary that impacted me is The Devil and Daniel Johnston. On the one hand, it’s a well made documentary, intertwining recordings and videos from Daniel with interviews. It also gives an insight into Johnston’s process (DIY) and demonstrates that anyone can create; that notions of your ability should never disincentivize. Then of course there is the band that makes you want to be in a band – Velvet Underground.

Channa Horwitz, Darboven, Agnes Martin

I was in Berlin in 2016 and accidentally went to an exhibition by Channa Horwitz, a woman I’d never heard of before. Her works moved me, and got me more interested in visual arts. Furthermore, her aesthetics and approach to methods inspired me to work on my own ideas. I later found out that she had been a housewife in Hidden Valley (ironic), California, for most of her life. Horwitz’s works easily translate into music. Maybe that’s why I relate to her. In a way I connect her to Hanne Darboven, Agnes Martin and Hilma af Klint.

Andy Kaufman – Mighty Mouse

I believe everything I find funny can be traced back to this man. I had never heard of him until I saw Man on the Moon – which became my favorite film at the time. The scene where he is doing the “Mighty Mouse performance” was something I had never seen before. The way he portrays insecurity and gracefulness at the same time I found genius. I’m sure he influenced many comedians and performers.

Anaïs Nin / Oliver Sacks

I started listening to audiobooks after turning 30. For some reason I’ve often listened to Henry and June by Anaïs Nin on plane rides. I find her to be an entrepreneur when it comes to feminism and therapy; the way she describes relationships and nuances in social interactions is quite intriguing. I have also listened a lot to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – I don’t really know what I want to say about Oliver Sacks other than that his knowledge and curiosity inspires me. I found his documentary about achromatopsia, The Island of the Colorblind, captivating. Sometimes I just put anything on by Oliver Sacks to get inspired.


Podcasts have often influenced me. I once heard an interview with John Baldessari in which he talks about how there is no difference between painting a picture and painting the wall in your house. It’s all just paint on a surface. I find his choice of words liberating. I am also very fond of his pictures.

Groundhog Day

When it comes to movies I could talk about Tarkovsky and Ingmar Bergman, but the movie I watch once or twice every year is Groundhog Day. Watching Bill Murray’s performance every day would actually be the perfect groundhog day for me. You can basically replace every self-help book in the house with this movie.

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