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2019 by Freya Björg Olafson


website last updated Dec 2019

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New ICelander:

The Search for Sesselja


Choreography / paintings / performance: Freya Bjorg Olafson


Musical Director / violinist / composer/ performer: Kristjanna Oleson


Composers: Constantine Caravassilis, Rob Menard, Kristjanna Oleson, David Schneider


Mentors: Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan


Curator: Steven Matjicio


45 minute performance


Premiered in 2006



Past Presentations:


Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art as part of Volcana Icelandic Panorama exhibition


The presentation of this series was generously supported by:


Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art &

The Icelandic Consulate Office in Winnipeg.


interview on City TV

Freya & Kristjanna

3:30 minutes



Passage is a central theme in the work of five female artists featured in Plug In ICA's exhibition VOLCANA Icelandic Panorama. In their work tradition and memory undergo various states of translation and adaptation as these artists move across the world and replant their cultural roots across international soils. To explore a parallel process in Manitoba and extend the theme of passage across the disciplines of dance and music, Plug In is proud to present the performance New Icelander: The Search for Sesselja by Freya Bjorg Olafson and Kristjanna Oleson. Olafson is a dance, visual, performance, and video artist who, while born in Winnipeg, is conducting part of her ongoing research into her heritage through the immigration and life of an Icelandic grandmother: Sesselja Danielsdottir (who landed in Manitoba in 1875). She does so through a combination of painting and contemporary dance, and her past work has been featured in such venues as the Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers, Young Lungs Dance Exchange, Graffiti Art Gallery, and the Send + Receive Festival of Sound. In New Icelander Olafson collaborates with songwriter, teacher, and musician Kristjanna Oleson who draws upon her own Icelandic heritage and training in a broad spectrum of musical genres to reflect upon themes of cultural passage. She was a founding member of the string quartet group Ani-mata Strings and is presently working as a violin/viola teacher at the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts, St. John's Raven's Court and Grosvenor School. Other musicians to be included in the performance are Constantine Caravassilis, Matthew Kroeker, Rob Menard, and David Schneider.


Drawing upon parallels in their Icelandic-Canadian experience Olafson & Oleson craft a story that connects the 19th century life of Sesselja to her granddaughter Freya's present-day identity through a network of contemporary languages. The story is told in six chapters, each marked by the projection of one of Olafson's paintings to serve as a backdrop - transmitting history and memory through a vibrant, graffiti-inspired aesthetic. Before these raw, gestural paintings Olafson performs in a style of dance that blends classical training, contemporary expression, and the directness of performance art. Each chapter is also distinguished by a distinct musical soundscape where Olseon entwines earthy, organic music with synthetic, digitally-rendered audio - played on a variety of instruments that include mountain dulcimer, electronic viola, accordion, and glockenspiel. As a whole, pushing the themes of VOLCANA into more physical, human territory, these young female artists speak to the living translation of cultural history. New Icelander: The Search for Sesselja also functions as the seed of a larger project intended to congregate art forms, experiences, and individuals through shared stories of passage.







an excerpt from New ICelander: The Search For Sesselja


To be uploaded soon