Steypa (2007, Directors: Markús Thór Andrésson and Ragnheidur Gestsdóttir): I’m not a contemporary art connoisseur by any means, but my reason for choosing Steypa was simple. It’s about Iceland. My husband and I are travelling to the island country in September this year for the Reykjavik International Film Festival, so any chance I get to see the Icelandic culture and environment, I jump.
Steypa is an enjoyable film. The film’s title has two meanings. Steypa is the word for concrete, as in the material used in construction. It also can be used to refer to something that is weird, different or unusual. And looking at the contemporary art scene in Iceland, weird, different or unusual is certainly fitting. The directors focus on seven artists, following them as they choose their materials, display their art in galleries and work on their creations. Amid the quirky pieces of art, however, I found myself more amused and charmed by the artists themselves. Or rather, at their Icelandic sense of humour (if you’ve seen films by Icelander Robert Douglas, you’ll know what I mean). One artist fills Fanta bottles with Pepsi, but admits that he is actually using Coke. “It’s cheaper,” he says. Another steals plant clippings from a seniors’ apartment, noting that no one will really notice if they’re missing.
Even though I would not actually hang any of the artists’ work in my apartment, I appreciate their focus and integrity to their art. There is no limit to their resourcefulness and creativity.
The one criticism I have is that even though each artist is always titled (through a rather snazzy bit of rainbow-coloured animation), I found it rather confusing to remember which artist was which. Barring that, Steypa really is true to a North American meaning of concrete: solid, but with a little weird thrown in.