Since the end of May when they launched the Valtari Mystery Film Experiment, Sigur Rós have released a new music video almost every week. As part of the experiment, each commissioned director presents a vision of what a song from the band’s Valtari means to them. The videos are highly personal as the directors have been given total creative freedom over their production and the result is a surprise to the band and to viewers. The music video for “Varðeldur” by director Melika Bass is a vision of something we would expect to experience at the MoMa in one of their popular performance art exhibits.
The video features dancing artist Selma Banich in a corroded room, as she moves along with the song. With every piano key, every instrument and every sound, Banich moves a part of her body, as she feels the music and reaches out to something that seems to be missing. Halfway through the video we see our performer attempt to climb a ladder in the corner of the room, with no success she shakes her head maniacally and then resorts to pulling something invisible towards her. Some of her movements throughout seem twitchy and almost painful, as the woman moves to the song and at the end fades away into the floor dying.
So far, most of the videos that have premiered as part of the experiment have a theme of sadness, pain and chaos. There seems to be something in the music of the Icelandic band that connects with a darker, more sensitive side of its listeners. On the project’s website, Bass says that the video for “Varðeldur” is “a film portrait of an unstable entity in a haunted vessel, drawn into and floating away from a siren song.” The unstableness in the video is depicted by the delicate yet grim movements of Banich, whose performance is haunting and complicated, yet extremely heartfelt.