Halldór Úlfarsson, Davyde Wachell, Davíð Brynjar Franzson

The project is an one hour long site-specific opera that reconstructs the first and only revolution in Icelandic history. To capture the essence of this failed revolution on an arctic island, they will travel to the desolate volcanic island of Jan Mayen, which sits in the middle of the Atlantic, 600 km north of Iceland. There, we will film a performers attempt to conquer the island by performing fragments of the opera while roaming the island and climbing its only mountain, a 2600m active stratovolcano. This parallels the story of Jorgen Jorgenssen, a Danish defector commanding an English merchant ship, who in 1809 declared himself chief protector of Iceland for 40 days in a remarkably failed attempt at liberating the nation from the colonial oppression of Denmark. After capturing the capital with six soldiers, Jorgenssen proceeded on a journey across the island to drum up support for his revolution only to be met with the deaf ears of a society beaten down by centuries of colonization. During this journey he missed the arrival of further English forces in Reykjavik who arrested him upon his return on charges of breaking military rank by not appointing his highest ranking military officer as a ruler. As a a result of this breach in protocol, Iceland was once again returned to Danish oppression only to receive independence 135 years later.

The opera is constructed from a set of music and video modules, many of which have accurately timed camera movement. At the Watermill Center, we will prepare a live performance version of 15 minutes from the piece in order to experiment with how these modules fit together and what sort of camera movements are most effective for live mixing of pre-recorded materials (test footage shot at Schloss Solitude) and live footage captured during performance.

Halldór Úlfarsson (Icelandic, b.1977) is an artist working in installation, video, performance and other medium. Halldór's work falls roughly into two categoriesesthetic studies and artworks that observe their own underlying motives and intents. His specialization in dolly effects and live video mixing will inform the visual language of the opera in various ways, particularly through the use of such effects to capture video using pre-programed camera movements which can be recreated in a live setting allowing the splicing of images captured on Jan Mayen and images captured live during a performance.

Davyde Wachell (Canadian, b.1981) is a New York based director and producer. His series of shorts Good Kids examines the problem of violence and identity in young people. Good Boy was set in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro and premiered at Tribeca. His latest film Invasion, peers inside the disturbed world of an internet addicted outsider. He recently produced a short film, Pool Party, by director Sara Zandieh in Tehran, in Iran which opened at Tribeca in 2010. Davyde's experience in working in somewhat dangerous environments make him an invaluable asset to this project.

Davíð Brynjar Franzson (Icelandic, b.1978) is a New York based composer. His work explores how we hear a sound differently based on the context that we hear the sound in and how sounds can operate as modular building blocks when placed in various contexts. His site-specific piece "a Guide for the Dead through the Underworld" was staged in the off-stage spaces of the Volksbuhne theater in Berlin as a part of the Ultraschall Festival, one of Germany's largest music festivals.

Image: © 2011 Davyde Wachell

Residency event(s)
Davíð Brynjar Franzson Open Rehearsal