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“....Like a self made myth out of a Guy Maddin movie.”

Alison Mayes, Winnipeg Free Press

New ICelander


Video / Performance / Sound


Freya Björg Olafson


Lighting Design | Hugh Conacher


60 minute performance



Past Presentations:


Nordic Arts Alliance / Minnesota State University (Fargo / NorthDakota, Moorehead / Minnesota)


OFFTA (Montreal) showing of 8 minute excerpt of New Icelander



D:MIC, Dance: Made in Canada Biennial at the Betty Oliphant Theater (Toronto, Ontario)


Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival (Fargo / NorthDakota, Moorehead / Minnesota)



Winnipeg Art Gallery as a part of “Subconscious City” (Winnipeg, Manitoba)


Drake Hotel as part of “A Taste of Iceland” (Toronto, Ontario)


Akureyrarvaka (Akureyri, Iceland)



O.K. Centrum / Transart Institute - Linz, Austria


núna (now) festival - World Premiere (Winnipeg, Manitoba)



NOTE: The current touring version of NEW ICELANDER is a solo wherein the sound, the video and the performance was created by Freya Olafson. It is 25 minutes in duration.


intervue Radio-Canada (En Francais)

During núna (now) Festival 


3:30 minutes



NEW ICELANDER is an intermedia performance that draws parallels between the cross-cultural experiences of Freya Olafson’s 19th century ancestors and her own present-day identity, as a Canadian of Icelandic decent and a prairie born Manitoban. In February 2006, the Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art (Winnipeg) presented Freya’s performance entitled, New Icelander: The Search For Sesselja alongside their exhibit Volcana: Icelandic Panorama. It spoke to the living translation of cultural history with the intention of bringing together art forms, experiences, and individuals through shared stories of passage.


In this further developed work simply titled NEW ICELANDER Ms. Olafson references the Icelandic River Saga written by Manitoban genealogist, Nelson Gerrard, chronicling the history of the settlement of The New Republic of Iceland, north of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Through the manipulation of both the visual images and stories within this “saga” Freya is able to interpret history, figuratively resurrect her ancestors and in the process discover and create her own mythology.


Freya’s ancestor’s settled on a homestead called “Nes” along the Icelandic River in Manitoba. This land was an unmarked graveyard for approximately 80 Icelander’s who died of smallpox within the first years of settlement from 1875-76. Upon visiting this site for the first time this summer 2006 she was surprised to have direct encounters with unearthed graves, skulls, coffins and bones that were gradually being dragged to the basin of the River. The imagery in the NEW ICELANDER series

is result of this serendipitous connection with history resurfacing and her subsequent illness which manifested as though she had a possesed body from her visit to Nes.


Originally presented in May 2007 by the nùna (now) festival with the generous support of the Manitoba Arts Council it has since been presented in three different countries, in a variety of configurations and settings from small lo-tech venues to a 70ft x 40ft fully rigged theater. 


The development of this series is generously supported by:

Manitoba Arts Council

Winnipeg Arts Council 

& núna (now) festival

“...... an incredible personal mythology.” Alison Mayes, Winnipeg Free Press, April 2007



“With its clever multidisciplinary fusion, New Icelander is a journey that brings the past and the present together in the same body.”

Paula Citron, The Globe and Mail, April 2008


4:30 minutes


New Icelander videowork




excerpt of New Icelander Video work

1:22 minutes


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