GoSee meets ... the author of DREAMLAND and KAIROS award-winner Andri Snær Magnason and the first green activist of Iceland
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Andri Snær Magnason was born in Reykjavik in 1973 and is an author of children's books, poetry, novels and drama, one of the most versatile authors in Iceland – and sometimes chooses rather unusual means to get his point across.
When he decided to sell his volumes of poetry through a supermarket chain, the sales hit Icelandic record marks, that is, all in relation to its 300,000 inhabitants. Another example: he suggested that Reykjavik should turn off all its lights for half an hour in 2006, so that an astronomer could explain the unique night sky to the Icelandic people over the radio.
Most recently, he has been involved in the conversion of the Toppstödin factory, where we met him for an interview and tour. He told us that the factory just drifted off into oblivion, it was left untouched in its original state for decades, just outside Reykjavik. Its original purpose was to provide additional electricity won from coal during times of peak demands such as Christmas.
Before the crisis, the government released a multi-million budget to tackle it. This is where Island's creative community comes into play – they want to convert the location. Vertical integration of production stages (3D artists), fashion designers, ateliers and photo shoots. Andri is in good spirits and tells us that he met with the prime minister himself to agree on the details. Iceland, the land of short distances.
In 2009, Andri was the co-director when his bestseller ‘Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual For a Frightened Nation’ was dramatised and went on to be presented at many international film festivals. In 2010, he was awarded the highly coveted KAIROS-Award by the Alfred Topefer Fund.
Iceland is considered by many to be a forgotten land of fairies on the border of Europe. For a short while now, Iceland has been synonymous with fast money, national bankruptcy and the destruction of nature as a result. The result was a decisive rejection of the political establishment and the outbreak of a creative revolution. One of the revolutionists in question, Andri, tells the tale of what happened in the meantime – in Dreamland
Using Iceland and its occupation through international aluminium companies, he points out a development of which we are all aware to some extent. Something that happens everywhere and always follows the same patterns and out of which there seems to be no way out: traditional structures are abandoned in the name of wealth. No energy, no wealth – no power plant, no energy. In any case, nature is left behind a ravaged victim.
Andri is a protagonist of the green movement that fights against economic tunnel vision and for a broader perspective and he has become a popular dialogue partner, even outside the borders of Iceland, in the last few years. His book is personal, poetic and only appears naïve on first glance. It is entertaining, yet meticulously researched and its dedication to its subject matter is hard as nails.
He is currently promoting BONUS - his aforementioned volume of poetry in Frankfurt, which just been published as a German translation. The book is named after a famous supermarket chain, the adverts of which feature a happy and seemingly doped up pink pig on yellow plastic - the most famous pig from Rejkavik.
Here is a little extract from Bonus
Some do not believe
that they are real princesses
But look, there is proof
in the panty liner
A Self-Help Manual For a Frightened Nation
By Andri Snær Magnason
translated by Nicholas Jones
15 x 20 cm | 292 Pages | illustrated
by Andri Snær Magnason
15 x 20 cm | 64 pages
€ 9,99 (D) | € 10,30 (A) | SFr 14,90 (CH)