If you’re just a regular human and you’re not a poser, your first reaction to a performance by experimental art group CGFC will be to scratch your head in confusion. Before you know it, you’ll be desperately scrambling to find a theme, a message—a detail that will unveil some sort of coherence behind the madness.
Look no further. Truth is, there is no message: only energy, fun and a deep desire to experiment. “Everything we do is kind of drawn into two reactions,” Arnar, one of the performers, concedes. “It’s either a ‘WOW’ or a ‘HAHA.’” Indeed, it’s only when you stop asking yourself what kind of act you’re witnessing, that the fun truly begins.
A smooth collaboration
Arnar Geir Gústafsson, Birnir Jón Sigurðsson, Hallveig Kristín Eiríksdóttir and Ýr Jóhannsdóttir met in 2015, when they shared a car on their way to the LungA art festival in the Eastfjords. Since then, they’ve been on stage with various installations that stretch invasively to every expression of art you can think of, including fashion, music, dance and theatre.
They’ve previously described themselves as a “glitter-spreading disco-dance machine.” Asked what the acronym CGFC stands for, every one gives a different answer at unison. Yet, every time one of them speaks, echoes of “yeah, yeah!” follow naturally, as if the four of them shared one single brain. A large, glittering one, I suspect.
“It’s a very smooth collaboration, and it’s because we never say no to each others’ ideas,” Ýr explains. “We give everyone the same space and eventually things that don’t work on stage are filtered out naturally.”
Theirs is a long process of trial and error, but that’s what they draw their energy from. Every visual performance they give is all about playing together and having fun. Like when they experimented with a projector by casting the image of a pig onto a man-made rainbow as if the animal had naturally appeared through spritzes of water.
Besides their obvious love of Photoshop and slow-motion videos (you will both laugh and cringe at Arnar’s attempt to smile sensually as a long-haired Great Gatsby on Youtube), there is very little tech and a lot of raw materials involved in their performances. Naturally, the spotlight ends up shining on every sound, word and gesture instead. Just don’t ask them why. “We’re projecting energy, more than a message,” Hallveig says. “It’s just about experimenting without questioning anything. It’s about being really free and encouraging people to experiment too and be more imaginative.”
“Yeah! Yeah,” goes the echo.
Childhood games and the reality of growing up
Far from being all fun and play, however, CGFC is a full summer-time job in itself. Working and practicing from nine to five every day can be draining, but it’s also extremely fulfilling. After performing at LungA, where they launched a new piece called ‘Headliners’, CGFC will take their creative baby on a ride along East Coast of Iceland and through Scandinavia, with stops in Finland and Sweden.
Taking the form of a play—the same kind that children set up for their parents in their living room—’Headliners’ is about parents’ expectations and the reality of growing up. Or maybe it isn’t, but if you’re brave enough to let your guard down you’ll manage to get a glimpse of life without filters, and isn’t that worth it?