take an exclusive first look at this new björk documentary
And read our interview with the music legend, in which she talks body augmentation, dreams, and what she does when life feels overwhelming.
This article was originally published by i-D UK.
“There's so much more to music than just work,” begins a very familiar Icelandic voice in the first episode of Work in Progress, a brilliant new documentary series from WeTransfer. “If I collaborate I want connections to be genuine; to be for real.” Setting out to discover more about the creative processes behind some of today’s most important artists, things kick off today with totally iconic musician and five-time i-D cover star Björk and her friend, collaborator and awesome Japanese visual artist, Jesse Kanda. Together they made the Utopia album cover, the very intimate video for "Mouth Mantra" and perhaps most special of all, the video for "Arisen My Senses". Sluggy reproductive organs, pink fleshy material; sex, birth and death all in one. A full life cycle of the surreal and beautiful.
The doc opens in Iceland, where Björk explains that there's no separation between nature and people; they are nature. She reflects on growing up in Reykjavik in a small community of musicians where everyone helped each other out by sharing equipment and making music videos together, over footage of 80s punk bands Vonbrigði and Tappi Tíkarrass (Björk’s first). “Music video is one of the most incredible forms there is,” she continues. “People like Jesse, Nick Knight, Chris Cunningham — they are all visual artists. I look at my role as sort of like a curator.”
Jesse, a master of body manipulation, dreamed up the aforementioned sluggy organs and was responsible for bringing that weirdo world to life, turning Björk and Arca into beautiful winged creatures who bow deep down to each other. Take an exclusive first look at the documentary below, and dive into a predictably dreamy chat with Björk herself.
Hi Björk! In "Arisen My Senses" you change forms. If you could augment any part of your body, what would you do and why?
When me and Jesse first talked about the video, I told him my instinct was that it was like flowers blooming on every beat of the music, and we, with James [Merry], talked a lot about orchids. I was probably really into being a plant and human mutant, an optimistic hybrid after the apocalypse — a little fucked up perhaps, but very happily so. James and me worked a lot on those which ended up on the photos and the other videos. Jesse then took it to the next level and turned to moths transforming into butterflies.
The video for "Arisen My Senses" is like a simultaneous life cycle. When life feels overwhelming, what do you do to make yourself feel better?
Again and again I turn to music for everything. I try to put the right song on in the mornings and if I get the match right — not too eager and not too passive – it manages to elevate the day. But it is a constant trapeze act to be honest.
What artwork by someone else do you wish you had created?
I don’t really think on those terms — it’s a trap. It takes you away from your own mission, but if I say who inspires me, I have to say that Meredith Monk just premiered an important relevant piece in BAM last weekend at the age of 75. She is a good friend of mine and has paved the way for ladies to age and grow while staying fertile. That is true pioneering into the most barren continent; brave and contains even fewer humans than have entered space! Proper moonwalking.
What's the last dream (actual dream, during sleep) that you remember having?
At the moment I’m prepping the tour and I was actually laughing this morning about having had a dream with the least Jungian symbolic impact, like ever: Being lost in a suburb somewhere and you can’t spell the street you’re on for the Uber... or maybe it is really deep? Who knows?