Prolific and among the most active artists on the Faroese art scene, 33-year-old Heiðrik á Heygum has worked in a wide range of artistic fields. When he is not working on a film project, it is music or the visual arts that keep him busy. His artistic trademark is an idiosyncratic mix between Hollywood, Hitchcock and Faroese folk tales and legends, which stories he adapts to make them his own.
A true child of the 80s, Heiðrik grew up watching music videos on MTV and was particularly drawn to the musical and visual universe of the artist Bjørk. Spurred by the creative freedom afforded by easily accessible recording equipment and sharing platforms such as YouTube, his unique style can today be recognised in the music videos of artists such as Eivør, Orka and Byrta.
Much of the young director’s work is marked by an attachment to the past, stirred in part by his mother’s collection of old photographs and his close relationship with his grandmother. Conveying both romanticism and melancholy in his work, Heiðrik believes there is beauty to be found in melancholy, which he identifies as a key theme in the work of many Faroese artists.
Women are also strongly represented in his work. Although he says this is not necessarily intentional, he still grew up with a lot of ‘good’ women around him and believes they are easier to work with. According to Heiðrik, the Faroe Islands are a patriarchal society, where men are still subject to macho-ideals that can prevent them from truly exploring their feelings.
Although much has changed since Heiðrik grew up in the 80s, conservative viewpoints still hold sway over contemporary Faroese society, and old gender roles remain prevalent. For the song “Boy,” Heiðrik has made a beautiful video showing a young boy who seeks out his hidden place – out in the Faroese nature – where he secretly keeps a dress, pearls and make-up. The song is inspired by a tragic story and real instance of homophobia in the Faroe Islands. In the video, he wanted to show the boy, happy to be in his dress. It is important that we “allow children to be children, and to be true to themselves,” says Heiðrik, who believes that the conflict against the status quo is an important theme in contemporary Faroese art and that younger artists must attempt to get the older generation to listen.
Growing up was not always easy; throughout his childhood and youth, Heiðrik felt that he did not fit in. His newest album “Funeral,” which features the song “Boy,” is an attempt to work through and lay aside some of the issues and frustrations he experienced then. So far, three of the ten songs have been made into music videos and Heiðrik intends to make videos to every song in the album. Always on the lookout for his next project, he is planning to make a horror movie next. Thanks in part to the success of his horror short “Skuld,” for which he was awarded the Faroese film prize ‘Geytin,’ he has already received collaboration offers. Filming will take place in the Faroe Islands, where Heiðrik says he finds all the conditions necessary to tell his stories… and then the islands are beautiful to boot.
Written by: Eilen Anthoniussen
Photo by: Tróndur Dalsgarð
Originally published in: Atlantic Review (2016)