Watch: The Man Who Wanted to Collect Time

The video work titled The Man Who Wanted to Collect Time is a fiction that tries to reflect a peculiar sensation of the slowness of Time that is experienced in some places. The notion of place is an idea that leads to identity and therefore to memory. The place where the video was filmed is a place of intense memories. An allegorical place populated by the ruins resulting from an avalanche of snow that has destroyed an entire fishmeal factory in the year 1995. The place is an isolated village in the northeast of Iceland country/island also isolated in the middle of the Atlantic north. There I found a very particular situation: two brothers who own an important part of the fjord and also the factory of the film which have a strong passion for the idea of ruin and obsolescence. For example, they collect cars that have in their land literally in a process of decaying and totally rusted but which appears as a strong witness of other times and situations. They became the owners of the factory only after the avalanche and keeps it there as a visible ruin of the event. In other words, contrary to the normality on our globalized world where what is essential is to make disappear as soon as possible the elements of obsolescence to replace them by new ones in a kind of a dialectic of capitalism, here things have their own time to disappear: their time of connection with the historical time. It has been with these elements in my head that I have decided to make* a fiction in the destroyed factory by the avalanche in the year of 1995. “The man who wanted to collect Time” is a sort of trip by the ruins of the avalanche made by a character who tries to embody this abstract idea of collecting Time in adverse conditions, that is, in a situation where every day, every hour, every minute, every second, as he remembers us in the video, we are remembered of the unstoppable expansion of space towards the global conquest and the annihilation of Time already in an accelerated compression. But it isn’t at all a journey of a heroic character, on the contrary, is a figure of withdrawal. A figure, therefore, very real, impotent to make the necessary changes, but that aspired to collect time, a quixotic task in which he is accompanied by the vision of the artist, who also, in an ambition for the real, can only reach reality far from any glorious gesture. It is what only exists here, nothing more.

NOTE: Reality sometimes passes us by. During the process of filming the ruins that retained their form in the last 16 years after the avalanche has changed a lot due to a very strong storm that fell in the village and that is the reason why the final images are already of yet another ruined ruin. When I asked what the brothers thought about this they answered me like this: how beautiful it is.

Yes, it is.

* The video was made in a two-month artistic residency at the Skaftfell Visual Arts Centre in Iceland.

Work by Fernando José Pereira.

Part of the Arctic Cinema conference in Trondheim on the 21st and 22nd of November 2016.

CategoriesIceland Watch
Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.