Bros, Snorri - Barflies: Reykjavík
In 1993 in Reykjavík, Iceland, a bar named Kaffibarinn Frikki & Dýrið opened its doors to the public. It was a small place on two floors, in a modest, old corrugated iron house on a side street near Reykjavík’s main shopping drag. In its first year, the electric atmosphere at this bar became the source of legends, and Kaffibarinn (as it was commonly known) became the epicenter of Iceland’s Gen-X. The people portrayed in Barflies: Reykjavík are the Kaffibarinn regulars, the people who made up the scene: “Bartenders, musicians, actors, actresses, writers, models, entrepreneurs, photographers, computer geeks, students, filmmakers, artists, and some just plain old barflies with nothing much to report.”
All of the portraits were shot within a short time period, and each subject was shot only once. All of the pictures are framed in the same way, shot with the same camera, the same lens and the same film, against the same background, and with the same lighting. The camera used was an old Hasselblad with a Polaroid back, which the Snorri Bros decided not to clean—this only increased the charm of the resulting images.
The pictures in the book originally appeared in an exhibition in Reykjavík in April of 1994, to favorable reviews. Since then, they have scarcely seen the light of day...until now.
The Snorri Bros began their artistic collaboration as breakdancers in their native Iceland, before graduating to a career in commercial photography that eventually led them to the United States. Settling in Brooklyn, they continued to photograph, shooting for the likes of Interview, Spin, and Details, and soon began to break into film and video as well. Today, they have created commercials for Mercedes Benz, Hummer, Cadillac, Kenneth Cole, and a spot for Sprint whose novel take on stop-frame animation brought them international recognition. They have also directed music videos for artists including R.E.M. and The Streets.
Jón Kaldal is Editor-in-Chief of Fréttabladid, Iceland’s biggest daily newspaper. Before he joined Fréttabladid he was Editor-in-Chief of Iceland Review, an English-language quarterly magazine on all things Icelandic, reaching subscribers in over 100 countries, and Ský, a bi-monthly magazine for the domestic market on current affairs, culture, and entertainment. He crossed paths with the Snorri Bros while working with them on a small independent music magazine in the early 90s.