RAGNHEIÐUR ERLA BJÖRNSDÓTTIR

Ragnheiður Erla Björnsdóttir b. 1993 is an Icelandic composer, poet and performer based in Vienna. Her practice centres around research of sound-based elements with language, music and visual art using experimental vocal technique, syllable language and phonetic poetry. Erla holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Iceland and a BA in Composition from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts under the guidance of Hróðmar I. Sigurbjörnsson. She completed exchange studies in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in 2017. Erla is a member of Hlökk, an art ensemble together with Ingibjörg Ýr Skarphéðinsdóttir and Lilja María Ásmundsdóttir. Their album, Hulduhljóð, won the Kraumur Music Awards 2019 and was nominated as the album of the year at the Icelandic Music Awards. Erla was also nominated, with Hróðmar I. Sigurbjörnsson, for the composition of the year for their children's opera, The Seal Woman, at the Icelandic Music Awards.

Together with Ásdís Birna Gylfadóttir, she is a part of the visual/audio collaboration SÚL_VAD. Their work researches the relationship and the opposition between the two mediums with video installations as well as live sound performances. Works by SÚL_VAD include Velgja, Currents in Ocean Circulation, and Ymur.

Velgja by SÚL_VAD at RASK #2:

Velgja awakes within a conversation between the subconscious and the self in a dream. It arises and offers us clues about our lives - appearing to us in various ways: an upset stomach, series of sleepless nights, endless itching and bleeding wounds. Heavy, heavy breathing. As the waves within us demand to come forward. The piece expresses the nausea of the inner life moments before the itching begins. Velgja was exhibited at RASK#2 at Ingólfsstræti 6.

Other works by SÚL_VAD

Currents in Ocean Circulation, is a composition written for 13 performers and audiovisuals and was chosen for Ung Nordisk Musik Festival 2019 in Sweden. The video installation expands the visual aspects of the work by creating an oceanic world inspired by the Icelandic shore found within the poetry collection, which the composition is originally built upon. The video installation is in 7 different parts, each depicting in different ways the raw and dreamlike energy caught in water around the island. The visuals were described by composer James Black in the Seismograf as following: “[...] and a beautiful, unpretentious video of ocean movements played in reverse, that in some bizarre way complemented the guttural, rich material from the choir.”

Ymur has a strong indication to both Icelandic nature and the Icelandic language’s phonology. The visuals explore the power of elements and different forces in Icelandic landscape. It started as a video research collected in the summer of 2018 and then evolved as they started collaborating and bouncing off of each others material. The electronics disguise as nature sounds while the visuals are originally filmed in nature but sometimes seem to be machine-like. The vocal performance by Erla is heavily influenced by her research of the deconstruction of phonology, combined with improvisation and sound poetry. It is an ever changing piece, changing each time it is performed, depending on the place and time. Ymur was performed at the European audio & art exhibition Tut Töt Tuð in Grand Theater Groningen, The Netherlands.

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