A Book That Is Not A Book – Inki Music
  • Branded a whore


A Book That Is Not A Book


Quite the Situation is an artwork composed of three elements – a bookwork, an album release, and an installation. They fold into one another, creating a three-dimensional story tied together with the strings of time and yet, unbound by it. The work shifts and evolves in continual motion: a book becomes a piece of music and a piece of music becomes a wordless conversation.

Although rooted in Icelandic history, Quite the Situation, joins the global conversation surrounding gender equality, highlighting the way female sexuality has historically been put under the microscope and continues to be.

Table of Contents

Both the album and the book are written to follow the same structure and flow. They are brought together by augmented reality app Artivive. When the app is pointed (via a mobile device’s camera) at the book, it will play the music composed to accompany it, while sentences from the book appear to lift off the page.

Did You Know That Iceland Is Green?

Let‘s time travel a few years back in time and teleport over to California, where I was living at the time. Be it my looks or my strong Icelandic accent, multiple times a week I was mistaken for Russian. When my true nationality was revealed, I knew the next sentence would be: „Did you know that Iceland is Green, and Greenland is Icy?“ – except that one time when I said: „I am Icelandic“ and the Uber driver responded: „I have never been to Paris“.

While it’s a part of obligatory education in Iceland to know the history of these two countries, most Americans seemed to only know trivia from Mighty Ducks II. That’s how I became inspired to make a piece about the common history of my home and the country I was calling home: America.

But Did You Know That Americans Used To Steal Icelandic Women?

During WWII Iceland was occupied by the Allies; however, this love affair wasn’t only political–it was also deeply personal. Many Icelandic women were enamored by the handsome foreign soldiers, and the soldiers were more than ready to “steal our women”. These affairs were dubbed “The Situation” and the women “The Situation Ladies.” Such liaisons gave birth to lasting relationships, children, and harassment.

In April 2019, I was invited to an artist residency at The Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County, California. Located in an old military base, it was the perfect place to develop this new piece. I began to collect Icelandic newspaper articles from 1940-1945 that underscore society’s view of “The Situation”. It is right here that I must stop and give my sister some credit. She is a lawyer and therefore a much better detective than I am, so she helped me comb through and dig up all those old articles.

Newspapers were the Twitter of their time. People wrote articles voicing their opinions on current matters, and in WWII a hot topic was “The Situation Ladies” and how they could be controlled.

Quite the Situation at The Reykjavik Art Festival
360°degree audio & video work

The flow (of the album) is good throughout, which is a bit remarkable considering that each instrumentalist was recorded individually. Then Inki worked with everyone's contribution in the editing room where she wove together a single, complete thread. And artfully so!

The Eyes Reveal If A Woman Loves A Man

These articles were penned 80 years ago based on values that their authors saw as threatened, ideas about the place and role of Icelandic women that had mostly stood unbudging for centuries, but which today seem antiquated, oppressive and even repellent. The Situation concerned not only women’s actual ties to soldiers but also hearsay. Women and young girls had to guard their reputations or risk becoming outcasts. Of course, the articles sound so far-fetched today as to be almost funny. But when we remember the ground from which they sprang and the personal torments they caused, their meanings grow broader and heavier. Yet, these are not glimmers from the dim past. Icelandic women had suffrage then. The struggle for equal rights, as we know it today, was underway. Doubtless, it even seemed quite advanced, just as it seems today. But was it?

We can’t really think of many records that can accurately be described as “an album, book and feminist critique” – and which also take the form of an augemented-reality app. We also can’t think of too many musicians that are truly competent in creating all those aspects while also doing their own graphic design, and taking care of that element with such a flair for typography and wonky minimalism.

Enter Inki, the multidisciplinary Icelandic artist who’s proven to be the ultimate 21st century Renaissance woman.

The Musical Composition & Album Release

History, it is said, doesn’t repeat itself but often rhymes. For this musical composition, I asked seven female musicians to record the music for the album, each recorded separately so I would later be able to spread their voices around the space in the installation. Before each recording session, we read sentences from the Situation articles and then discussed past and present, mirroring the present in a period of Icelandic history when women’s private lives were under the microscope as never before. The music was supposed to sound a bit like a film score. Songs that would float into one another, take you on a journey, and bring you back home at the end of the record.


The names of the tracks are all sentences from these articles. I only pressed 30 vinyl albums, which sold out within the first week. You can listen to the album on all streaming platforms.

1. Quite the Situation
2. Relationships With Foreign Strangers
3. A Rootless Little Girl
4. Foreplay
5. Sex In a Car
6. Just Great To Have These Devils Here
7. Branded a Whore
8. The Icelandic Maiden
9. Who Wouldn’t Desire Her?

The Icelandic Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, opened the installation
Quite the Situation Book Work

A Book That Is Not A Book

The book is not just a book. In fact, it is a musical composition. It is designed like a composer writing music, playing a familiar tune that has sounded throughout centuries. At first,  the piece is quiet, but as more voices join together, it becomes louder.

The sentences in the bookwork are taken from Icelandic newspaper articles written during WWII. Sentences are unrestrained, flowing from page to page and rising in volume until they hit the silence, then rising again until the grand finale – two question marks in the center of the book where Icelandic and English meet. In an attempt to comprehend the whole, the reader must flick back and forth through the bookwork’s pages, going forward and back again and again.

I chose this formatting for two reasons. First, I wanted to infuse the bookwork with elements of a musical composition where events happen on a timeline. Second, when the reader hones in on just one sentence, he misses the greater conversation happening around him–just like with any conversation in society.

This book comes to life through augmented reality. Open the Artivive app and point the camera to page 1 (ISL) or page 32 (ENG) and you will see the page start to move. This was done to extend the Quite the Situation installation out of time and space.

Inki (Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir) sound artist has received numerous awards for her work. She graduated with a master’s degree from Mills College, California in the spring of 2017, but her works have been heard in many parts of Europe and N-America, and they are shown both in art galleries and music halls.

Platform GÁTT is a Nordic Council of Ministers’ project led by Reykjavík Arts Festival. The main aim of the project is to ‘open up doors’ for young artists into the festival arena in the Nordic region.

Quite The Situation 360° Audio and Video Installation

In the Quite the Situation 360° installation, guests are invited into the work of art itself. Different media play together and form an experience across the senses, which is at once holistic and fragmentary, humorous but thought-provoking.

The work is shown on a repeating loop that is about half an hour long, but guests are free to enter and leave as they please. Furthermore, the video work contains both new videos I recorded and edited with filmmaker Erlendur Sveinsson and archived WWII videos I collected from The National Film Archive of Iceland. This rarely-seen archived footage shows American soldiers interacting with Icelanders.

Reykjavik Art Festival premiered the work, curated by Daria Sól Andrews. The Icelandic Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, opened the installation which was at Harpa Concert Hall.

You can experience the exhibition online if you click on the link below. Just drag the mouse to travel around the space.

Gender Equality Paradise

In international media and discourse, it is a rare mention of Iceland that does not include the label “gender-equality paradise”. But “The Situation” did not consist of women’s deeds; rather it was society’s reactions to those deeds, stemming from gendered judgments that even today fetter the sexes.

We have to keep on dissecting and studying history. Each moment reflects the past in a new way and draws out new angles and views. With creativity and by asking ourselves the right questions based on our history and past, we can find answers to contemporary questions.

It is easy to laugh at past prejudices; it’s much harder to distinguish tragicomic contemporary reality. How will the history of the present be regarded after 80 years?

Support This Release

Did you know it takes over 25.000 streams to make 100$ on Spotify? If you feel like supporting this release, please head over to my music and art store and purchase the digital download – or just something else that you fancy.

Released by Inni Music in 2020


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