Fieldnotes by visual anthropologists Jip van Steenis & Judith van der Schaaf, guest writer for the event.

Snapshots byPolarlicht


Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson

The smell of dark wood and stairs that spiral into infinity. Welcomed by a sweet Polish face with blonde hair. Arriving in the space. Beige, frames, white, beige, frame – also hanging around Styrmirs neck. Through the glass case I see a familiar redheaded girl sitting on the couch – Jip. I look closer at the glass case filled with stuff and wonder which scent would be released if you open those doors. The scent of years. The scent of use and neglect. At the bottom a technicolor piece of cake.
On the ground in front of a couch stands a golden sculpture set in a dark pillar – it fits here, everything fits here so I accept it as part of the silent interior. On the balcony stands a guy with blue eyes that match his blue jacket and his soft round head.

The bells of the neighbouring church ring. It's seven o'clock. The first visitors arrive and atmosphere and weather are both good. Resident Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson hangs a golden frame around his neck.


I try to see which the new elements in the room which setting now has already been changed by six residents. A music set prominently awaits to be played. Styrmir does performances and will perform tonight. Other elements are two sculptures: of a big black and colourful bird and a big golden folded airplane stuck inside a tree trunk.

Styrmir´s visitors and friends are all early arriving birds.



People chat while awaiting the promised performance. A bouquet of pink and red flowers placed on the dinner table trigger me. It says "sorry" on the attached card.


Tirza tells me she didn't put a limit on the amount of people today. She will see how crowded it gets. She says it suits a concert.


Kerouac is right: the treetops are dancing ecstatically. Clouds as swipes above us. Such a beautiful mansion and than that pvc pipe. Looking into the gardens – that wealth, is it treating you nicely? I think so – here money has been transferred into green lushness. The green budgerigars flying through it complete it. To my right another house, through the window I see a puzzled person at a table with hands on his head. When I look closer I see it’s a big bunch of roses in a vase. In the meantime we wait; cigarettes are lighted as we wait for the blond-haired Icelandic boy with the frame around his neck to begin his thing.

The bells of the neighboring church ring again. It's 8 o'clock. Everyone gathers around Styrmir and his music set. A low voice saying "Amsterdaaaaaaam" sounds from the speakers. And Styrmir mixes some electronic sounds in and with his soft voice he sings the Amy Winehouse lines: "I told you I was trouble, you know that I'm no good".


Is it me or does he look a bit nervous? I guess the setting is daunting. People gathered around him silently with somewhat of a come-on-entertain-us look on their face.

He uses the golden folded airplane as a prop for a song about flying. Styrmir sings about the oxigen masks, they can make us sky high. He holds the plane above his head and simulates a flight. Off we go.




A church clock rings eight times, already on the first ring everyone goes inside. The Icelander begins to play and to sing, with a soft and deep voice. – ‘You know that I’m no good’. A Spanish lady announces a departure through the speakers – of what? Cinqo...quatro…tres….dos… He walks to the golden sculpture and takes it out of its socket, and in his hands it has become a golden paper plane, an instrument, and he takes off. He flies high, calm, on classic classical tunes.

Now he uses the golden airplane as a stand in for a guitar while he leads us from classical tunes to danceble electronic tunes.


This only was the introduction. He gives a welcome word now, and introduces the airplane and the black bird as music instruments.


Good to see how all the grown-up visitors keep seated on one spot, and a young child visitor crawls around like crazy. Styrmir's mix is more energetic than we have seated ourselves, but we do almost all have smiles on or face.


He asks, haha, if we want to hear to bad or the good news first. "Bad news" is the reply from the audience. He says the bad news is that he did not get into the Rijksakademie, but the good news is that World War I is over, but the bad news is that Hitler is still around. And he raps further. The bad news is that the British won't be able to French kiss, but the good news is that Iceland will beat England in football tonight on Dutch television. And he invites us to watch the game with him, and with these words finishes the performance.


People ask for an encore and Styrmir answers that anyone can try his music instruments if they like.



Ending - Beginning
Then comes the electrotechno music, that makes him shake and jump wildly, bringing us laughter. Followed by a panting ‘welcome’. The kid running around to steal the show – but she doesn’t succeed with her banging. Styrmir sings with a voice that sounds like old tales, about gloomy Warschau and led infected water. I listen to it as if I’m there myself. ‘The good news is that the bad news is the good news’, he raps. And it’s over, it could have gone on much longer but is over. Now there’s football. We watch and cheer as Iceland takes the glory from those who fucked up.

Meanwhile in the Kitchen. Styrmir's girlfriend Agatha invited everyone to eat her paprika soup. "Are you interviewing me?" she asks, looking at my pen and paper. "Tell a good word about it. Tell a hot girl is making hot soup"- while she takes of her sweater next to the steaming pan on the stove that she stirs in. "How many peppers did you put in it?" asks her friend. "Two, I put in two" she replies.

I can tell you now, without even trying the soup, that it's good.

Tonight I invited my bestie anthropologist friend to write fieldnotes along me. I mean, who am I to always describe the event. Today we serve you with two levels of subjectivity. Judith is dressed in white from top to toe, and I'm scared to hit over my paprika soup.



The typical football noise comes from the tellie. Crowds of fans scream. The game started. European Championships 8th final: Iceland-England.

My goodie, Iceland just scored three minutes after the penalty that Rooney shot for England. It's one to one now. Goaaaaaal it sounds from the visitors throats. It's clear which team is supported by the visitors and friends of Icelandic Styrmir.



Iceland wins with 2-1! Styrmir says "this is kind of big". We feel the collective effervescence. In the third half people stick around for another beer, and the lucky ones receive the encore they asked for before. Styrmir sings us another two songs and mixes the meow of house cat Toekie in. This was a night of good vibrations.

Fieldnotes are a method of description cultural anthropologists use to describe things that occur while observing phenomena.

Applying the same method as Jip (but in snapshots), Polarlicht also registrated moments, details and other striking features of the event.

Both fieldnotes and snapshots were made from a personal perspective and were matched up by their time stamps.
This documentation functions as a reconstruction for you, the visitor that couldn't attend the event.