Discover more from The Rán Flygenring Show
The Nordic Council Prize Ceremony Trip
This email may hurt your eyes, and it is also rather long.
Last week I went to Helsinki to attend the Nordic Council Prize Ceremony, because Bannað að eyðileggja by Gunnar Helgason, illustrated by me, was nominated. We didn’t win the prize, but the nomination itself is a big honour.
Afterwards I thought it would be nice to share something from this trip. But then I faced an old problem. You see, one might think that because I make stories and images for a living, I must be fairly decent at casually documenting my own adventures. But I’m not! I repeatedly miss out on the good moments and all my photos end up being either purely pragmatic or, more commonly, straight out lazy.
Now, bad is never going to magically become good. But I am still going to give this a go and invite you to
Saturday 05:45 – somewhere between Reykjavík and Keflavík:
Here is the first photo I took. It captures my fury at this ridiculously bright screen at the front of the Reykjavik Excursion flybus:
Next up is the mandatory in-flight photo. I was particularily invested in this one because we could see all of the east fjords:
14ish at the hotel:
My lovely travel companions Simmi (fellow nominee) and Tindur (spouse) asked me to take a photo of them in front of the hotel building upon arrival. They then offered to take one of me, an offer I of course accepted because it is better to say yes than no, generally speaking. On hinsight I would have preferred a photo of them.
Due to the bad cold I caught on the flight, all I did for the next two days was to hang out in my hotel bed watching Masterchef Australia and eat many bars of this chocolate:
I also made use of the hotel sauna, which I obviously didn’t photograph but instead I took this photo of my room number in case I got lost:
Sunday, unknown time:
I went for a short walk and saw many things that I found interesting, like a woman with an noticably sharp look, functioning public transport, a (seemingly) hobo guy helping an old man enter a mall and a surveillance crow. But this is the photo I took:
Monday morning 08:34 at the hotel:
The official program started in the hotel lobby at 8:30 sharp and Gunni called me and yelled WHERE ARE YOU??!! with a perfect balance of emergency and humour. I hurried like mad down there but yet I stopped to take this mirror selfie:
In the hotel lobby all the nominees where gathered for karelian pies and coffee. Appearantly there were some speeches and introductions, but I can’t tell what went on because music (Islands in the stream with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers) was playing in the hotel speakers and nobody knew how to turn it off and when they tried they accidentally turned the volume up.
Later that day the literature nominees where invited on a guided tour of the Oodi Public Library – a reason alone to move to Helsinki. I remember thinking it would be pointless to take any photographs, I would never do it justice. So I took a more mood-focused, social angle on my documenting:
I have one other photo from there, focusing on the big holes in the ceiling that absorb sound:
After the library tour we were invited to visit an exhibition by Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck. It was a massive space full of big grey, silent sculptures, moments frozen in time. It made me extremely sad.
09:00 Tuesday morning:
This morning I took another fierce mirror selfie:
Actually I took the selfie mostly to convince myself that it is socially acceptable wearing leather pants to a morning event with children. During breakfast I made a new, brilliant friend (music prize nominee Bára Gísladóttir) who said RÁN, TO HELL WITH IT, THIS IS FINLAND YOU CAN WEAR LEATHER PANTS AT ANY TIME. Her statement worked wonders for me, but if there are any Finnish friends reading this, I’d love to hear your take on this.
OK now, this is actually a pretty nice photo:
Three surprising insider-things I learned about the Nordic Council Prize Ceremony before or during lunch that day:
Nobody knows beforehand who wins. ALL the nominees have to be ready to go on stage and know how and what to do in that case. That means ALL of the nominess in ALL categories have to write a speech. Unless you want to wing it of course, which is kind of more arrogant than actually preparing a speech.
The dress code for the evening is MÖRK KOSTYM – dark suit. According to reliable sources, this is the dress code one casual step down from tuxedo. What dark suit means for women is unclear, but most internet sources agree that general party clothing in a “festive” material is good. Understandibly this caused some confusion among the artists, but few people dared to vocalize their worries. To my great amusement I saw an suspicious amount of women wearing a black suit at the ceremony.
Scandinavian languages were spoken at all the events and English was strongly discouraged, as this is an event to strengthen the cultural relationship in the Nordic region. This brings up big questions about the meaning of language, identity and kinship through language, inclusivety and independence. Can languages give us a deeper feeling of connection to each other and our culture? Does actual inclusivity demand the universal reign of English? What about nations that have been forced to take up the language of their oppressor? Should this newsletter be written in Icelandic?
Writers and illustrators are generally introverts that dislike smalltalk. That makes lunches like this sometimes a bit strained. It went fine though and at my end of the table we shared ideas on how to tackle terrifying situations like giving speeches on live TV. Turned out Nora Dåsnes (being served water in the photo above) won the children’s and literature prize for her book Ubesvart anrop. I was very happy for her, even though she expressed some serious concerns about the speech-situation.
This is a screenshot form a 2 second video I made at the award ceremony itself. It was grand. In the screenshot you can see prime minister Sanna Marin and an unknown head.
This photo I didn’t take obviously, but I wanted to include it because we look so festive in our dark suits:
The second to last photo of the trip:
On the way back i spent a few hours in Kastrup where I had a raspberry sour from Mikkeller and ramen by Bára’s recommendation. It was excellent.
On the plane I sat next to a fun and friendly Icelandic man who works on a container ship. I have never met any one who works on a container ship! He told me many crazy stories, like when they lost twenty 50 feet containers into the sea due to bad weather, one of them full of Mazda SUVs. Next summer I am going to sail with them to the Faroe islands.
Many thanks to all my travel companions and the Nordic Council for the invitation and Gunni for writing the book who brought us there. And many thanks to you who lasted ‘til the end of this newsletter. Over and out.