Brynhildur Karlsdóttir: The Layers Of Love On A Performance Art Drive

Brynhildur Karlsdóttir: The Layers Of Love On A Performance Art Drive

Published May 24, 2019

Brynhildur Karlsdóttir: The Layers Of Love On A Performance Art Drive
Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Valur Grettisson

Brynhildur Karlsdóttir called me on a Monday evening and told me that she was picking me up. She had invited me to her graduation piece from the Performing Arts programme at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, called it ‘Komdu á Rúntinn,’ or ‘Come and drive with me.’ Avid readers of Reykjavík Grapevine might also know her as the incredibly energetic lead singer of Hórmónar. Look them up. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Brynhildur Karlsdóttir by Valur

Tragedy in the air

I felt a kind of suspense when I sat in the car with this petite 24-year-old, who greeted me with a sincere smile. She explained to me immediately that we were going to talk about love, and it would be a journey through places and stories in her own life.

“This was the first place I confessed my love to my boyfriend.”

After stopping at Aktu Taktu for some food, we drove to the harbour, where we sat and watched the grey sky over Esjan. “This was the first place I confessed my love to my boyfriend,” she said. They broke up with only months before. She played ‘A Sunday Kind of Love’ by Etta James, and said that they also had fries and a strawberry shake in this same place.

There was tragedy in the air as we sat in the car and watched the ocean. We had a conversation about the short time that this affair had lasted, how she felt, and why it ended. The confession lingered on the harbour, invisible to the naked eye, stored in Brynhildur’s heart, and that of her past lover. And now, with me.

Love and dishes

“When I start to love, I begin imagining things,“ she said, as we started driving again. “First I imagine me and the guy in innocent situations. Then it evolves. I imagine us together, as artists in Berlin, in an apartment filled with paintings and amplifiers. Then I think about us with kids. And I sometimes imagine myself doing the dishes, watching our children out of the window.” I asked why she connected her love to day-to-day circumstances, like doing the dishes? She had no definite answer. Perhaps there is none.

Brynhildur Karlsdóttir by Valur

The voice recording

After a while, she stopped the car, rolled herself a cigarette, and went out for a smoke. I would stay behind and listen to a voice recording. As I watched her back, and the smoke rising into the still air, I listened to a heartbreaking confession; how she battled with herself. How she felt little control when it comes to intimacy. How she’s empty, depressed and full of anxiety.

“I felt the void inside her as I listened.”

I felt the void inside her as I listened. She took the final drags of her cigarette and returned to the car. Something had changed between us. There was something delicate in the moment. My first instinct was to give her advice. But I had none. I told her I also felt confused when I was 24, and that everybody has to figure things out for themselves.

Brynhildur Karlsdóttir by Valur

Heart pieces

Love is a popular topic in art. But how often do we have a real conversation about it with the artist? This project relates to the intimate performances of Marina Abramovic; but is at the same time, it’s an honest attempt to grasp the void inside of ourselves—that we try to fill with love. It reminded me of the complexity of emotions, and youthful confusion.

It felt odd being handed a piece of someone’s heart. It was a powerful and sincere performance. And a fleeting one—there will be no more of these drives for now.

Read more about Brynhildur Karlsdóttir here.

Read about Brynhildur Karlsdóttir’s band Hórmónar here.

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