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Emerging artists working in their hometown Reykjavík and abroad share with the viewers the diverse processes that spark a work of art. Threading a line between realism and performance, the film explores inspiration and creativity through an intimate two-year collaboration with seven artists, providing an insight into a booming scene. Pouring Coke into empty Fanta bottles, Ásmundur asks himself “What is art?” suggesting that it is embedded in what an artist does. Accordingly, rather that focusing on the end product, the film deals with what the artist is up to before it comes to that. Gabríela kneads dough and smears on her face, Margrét is enchanted by gaskets in a rubber store, Huginn has his hair cut off and turned into a wig, Unnar rummages for plant cuttings in a home for the elderly, The Icelandic Love Corporation recreates Van Gogh’s Starry Night in liquorice and Kartín builds a small model of a house only to throw it off a bigger one. What is behind this commotion? Has Iceland anything to do with it? Does it concern the rest of us? The title, STEYPA, is borrowed from the artworks by one of the seven participating artists. It literally means “concrete” and is Ásmundur’s favorite sculpture material but it is also a word used in Icelandic for weird stuff or jargon. The composer and rock musician Ólafur Björn Ólafsson creates the soundtrack and three young and prominent designers create the graphics. The artists and creative team are all born between 1967 and 1976, situated in Reykjavík, Berlin, Brussels, Vienna, London, New York and Atlanta. Other interviewees, involved in or familiar with the Icelandic art scene are among others the curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Gregory Volk, the musician Bjork, and the artist Roni Horn. Together with friends and relatives of the artists they frame the phenomena of Icelandic contemporary art within the international scene and raise questions that apply generally to lives dedicated to creativity.


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