From Iceland — Stay Cultured While You Social Distance, Intellectuals

Stay Cultured While You Social Distance, Intellectuals

Stay Cultured While You Social Distance, Intellectuals

Published April 14, 2020

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Adobe Stock

Well, thanks to questionable food choices in another part of the world, we’ve all got a lot of time on our hands. Yes, in order to halt the spread of COVID-19, governments the world over have encouraged “social distancing,” i.e. deliberately avoiding physical interactions between people to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But what’s a gal to do while stuck inside her house? YouTube workout videos? Sensual love letters? Slash fanfiction? Don’t worry, the Grapevine is here to help you stay cultured until the Mad Max gangs begin to rampage.

Study up, idiots

Every foreigner in Iceland has a constant mantra running through their head: “Next month, I’ll definitely start concentrating hardcore on learning Icelandic. I’m gonna get so good.” Well, immigrants, now you have no excuse. Icelandic Online is the premiere resource for this—they even use it as a self-study class in the University. It’ll teach you grammar, declination, and more with a mix of reading, writing, and listening exercises. Other than that, download the Drops app for a crash course in random vocabulary, like the Icelandic word for hazelnut (‘heslihneta’). Totally useful.

For those who already know Icelandic, or don’t care about learning an only vaguely useful language, there are eight Ivy League universities offering over 450 classes online for free, from programming to art history to ethics. Personally, I’d recommend enrolling in Columbia University’s “The Age of Sustainable Development” taught by the legendary economist Jeffrey Sachs. If there’s anyone who can make you hopeful about the world’s massive inequality, it’s Sachs. I—the author—took a Sachs’ class at University and got an A. Jk. I did not.

Relax and watch, fans

Just because we can’t have raucous concerts in dingy venues full of wafting cigarette smoke and sticky floors doesn’t mean that the local Icelandic scene is going to halt creating some goddamn culture. No, in fact many local bands and performance groups are taking the event ban as a challenge, live-streaming shows on Facebook or Instagram but also saving them so you’re free to watch at your leisure.

Misþyrming, some of the Grapevine’s favourite animal blood enthusiasts, recently live-streamed a pretty fantastic show from Tallinn, which you can view above. On the less gruesome front, Harpa is running a series entitled ‘Heima í Hörpu,’ which features almost daily live-streams of lovely classical-ish artists from their Facebook page at 11:00. With the amount of talent Harpa has at its fingertips, you can rest assured that everyday’s performance will take your breath away. Hey Harpa—Víkingur Ólafsson next? Pls?

Otherwise, check out the Facebook page Kvílist, which is acting as a co-host for many livestream events.

On the international front, the Metropolitan Opera is live-streaming some of their best operas for free every night over the next few weeks. We’d recommend streaming the 2009 production of Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ on April 17th starring the motherfucking icon Patricia Racette. See example below.

Otherwise, Diplo is livestreaming near-daily two hour sets on YouTube, Instagram and Twitch. Miley Cyrus is doing daily Instagram lives with other celebrities at 11:30 LA time. Also, ya boi Andrew Lloyd Webber is taking requests for songs on his Twitter as part of his #ComposerInIsolation series, and has already blessed the world with a gorgeous rendition of “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.” That said, he has not responded to our cries of doing a livestream with Patti LuPone for a sing-a-long ‘Evita.’ What’s new, Buenos Aires?

Artwork makes you look smart, losers

Unfortunately, walking the halls of your favourite museum is impossible right now, but some Icelandic museums are getting creative. Most notably, Reykjavík Art Museum – Kjarvalsstaðir has erected a new exhibition entitled ‘Insiders,’ which is on display in the windows of the museum facing the Klambratún park. The exhibition features six artists including Ólöf Nordal and Harpa Björnsdóttir and explores the worship of nature. Stop by on your daily sanity-walk, but remember to keep a two metre distance from other passerbys.

‘Insiders’ at Reykjavík Art Museum – Kjarvalsstaðir. Photo by Hildur Inga Björnsdóttir.

If you’re sick or in full quarantine, first off, that sucks, but second, there are a ton of international museums and galleries that’ll open their doors to you from the comfort of your computer, so you needn’t feel left out on the visual art front. The British Museum is virtually opening up their great hall, so you can peek at the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies (while hoping this plague doesn’t turn you into one). Afterwards, mosey through the Guggenheim, Musée d’Orsay, Pergamon, and Rijksmuseum.

How cultured do you feel now, dweeb?

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.

Tune into our daily COVID-Cast for a deeper dive into the day’s developments.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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