Local choir hypnotized

The Reykjavík Queer Choir will be collaborating with renowned French film maker, Gurwan Tran Van Gie, on his next film, to be shot in Iceland this winter and presented at The Museum Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 2016. But before that the two will team up for a very unconventional act involving group-hypnosis at this year’s Reykjavík International Film Festival.

“The collaboration with Gurwan is so different from anything else we’ve done before,” says Gunnlaugur Bragi. “Normally many of us would be sceptical about the hypnosis part. But there’s something about being together in this choir that makes us want to try new things and push our boundaries. “

Gunnlaugur Bragi Björnsson, chair of the choir, says that he’s very excited about the news. “And my feeling is that the members of the choir are generally excited as well. To get this opportunity to work with a world-famous artist – and a queer one – on making art in a very, very unconventional way.”

How did the collaboration between Tran Van Gie and the choir begin?

“It really started during Pride 2012, when Gurwan came to Iceland and heard the choir sing for the first time. He was immediately inspired by the choir’s spirit and performance and subsequently started following us on YouTube. But we didn’t know that – until Gurwan started planning his trip to Reykjavík International Film Festival, RIFF, this fall. Then he finally made contact, and introduced his ideas to us.”

What were his ideas for a collaboration?

“At first, his idea was focused on the choir’s participation in his next film, but after having listened to our most recent recordings he also wished for us to take part in the screening of his film Honest Experience in Gerðasafn, on Tuesday, the 29th of September. He has picked a song, which we will perform following the screening and a group-hypnosis session.

Thereafter we will work with him on his next film, here in Iceland, in October and November.”

Hypnosis, poetry and singing sounds like an interesting mixture. What does a queer choir add to this concoction?

The French hypnotherapist and filmmaker Gurwann Tran Van Gie is this year’s artist in an annual collaboration between three festivals: RIFF, Hors Pistes and Air d’Islande. Gurwann’s latest film ‘Honest Experience’ is screened followed by a group hypnosis session with music. In the film, four persons in a state of partial hypnotic trance are asked questions about the truths that guide them.
The French hypnotherapist and filmmaker Gurwann Tran Van Gie is this year’s artist in an annual collaboration between three festivals: RIFF, Hors Pistes and Air d’Islande. Gurwann’s latest film ‘Honest Experience’ will be screened, followed by a group hypnosis session with music. In the film, four persons in a state of partial hypnotic trance are asked questions about the truths that guide them.

“Yes, this is truly an interesting mixture, and certainly something very different from what the Queer Choir has been dealing with before.

Gurwan is a hypnotist and a film maker and seeks to connect the two in his art. In his new film – which he will shoot in Iceland – he will mix together hypnosis, poetry, music and landscape. He wants to interweave Icelandic landscape with the poetry of the French poet Thomas Clerc and music.

The music for the film will be created and performed by the Queer Choir under hypnosis (!).”

What does all this mean for the choir?

“It is of course a great honour, that a well-known foreign artist looks to us with a project like this. Even more so, that he has been thinking about us for three years and watching us from afar all that time.

Whether this means world fame … well, let’s not say just yet. But at least this is a different and exciting experience for our fine group.”

“He has picked a song, which we will perform following the screening and a group-hypnosis session.”

A different kind of choir

Asked about the history of the Reykjavík Queer Choir (i. Hinsegin kórinn) Gunnlaugur Bragi says it was founded late summer in 2011, when four people got together and decided to form a choir. The choir has been getting bigger over the last few years. The fall of 2011 members counted around 15-20. Now, the fall of 2015, there was a boom and members rose from 40 to 70!

"Just over a year after I came out, or in the autumn of 2011, I heard that a queer choir had just been formed. Having grown weary of the club scene I decided to show up for practice. And it was awesome! I didn't know anybody but after only two or three practices I felt like I had known all of these people for many years. Thats how great this group is."
“Just over a year after I came out, or in the autumn of 2011, I heard that a queer choir had just been formed. Having already grown weary of the club scene I decided to show up for practice. And it was awesome! I didn’t know anybody but after only two or three practices I felt like I had known all of these people for many years. That’s how awesome this group is,” says Gunnlaugur Bragi, about his decision to join the choir.

“This increase shows that there is a great need for visible participation of queer people in music and culture in Iceland,” says Gunnlaugur Bragi. “Moreover, we think that there is a shortage of unconventional choirs in the Icelandic music scene – which otherwise is very diverse. Reykjavík Queer Choir focuses on a broad selection of songs, active performance and of course great company, ambition and happiness!”

Gunnlaugur Bragi says the choir is open for everyone – it does not discriminate based on sexuality, gender or anything else.

Vocal auditions are held twice a year, at the beginning of each semester, where new members are welcomed. Those who are interested are encouraged to make their interest known to members and follow the choir on Facebook where concerts, auditions etc. are advertised. Helga Margrét Marzellíusardóttir has been conductor since 2011.

Performing at Harpa.

Note: Gurwann Tran Van Gie’s film ‘Honest Experience’ will be screened at Gerðasafn on Tuesday at 8PM. More info here.

Photos of French filmaker Gurwann Tran Van Gie are cut-outs of the photo “Gurwann Tran Van Gie sur le tournage d’EXPERIENCE INTEGRE” by Gtvg.

Á. Óskarsson
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