Björk was barely out of nappies when she first committed her voice to record. She studied at a music specialist school before spending her teen years forming a myriad of punk bands and publishing her own poetry before founding seminal alt-rock band The Sugarcubes. 1988 Björk philosophised on the inner-workings of her tele during an Icelandic TV interview.
The image that introduced Björk to Australian audiences is that of her tap dancing in a tyre showroom and floating away from a high-kicking crowd. The timeless music video for It’s Oh So Quiet was directed by Spike Jonze, and the single still holds a special place in the heart of many ‘90s revivalists.
A dramatic shift away from her manic pixie image came in 1997 when Björk was mailed a homemade acid bomb by an unstable fan. Though the package was intercepted before it reached her, the incident had a profound impact on her life and work, resulting in the emotionally charged Homogenic album.
Another iconic Björk music video came from director Chris Cunningham. The clip that accompanied Homogenic single All Is Full of Love was a staple of rage playlists in the late ‘90s. Robot Björk gets her mack on in one of the most mesmerising music videos of all time.
Her on-screen appearance in Lars von Trier’s drama Dancer in the Dark fulfilled the singer’s lifelong desire to star in a musical. 13 years after her big screen debut in a Brothers Grimm adaptation, Björk won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. Due to the physically and emotionally draining nature of shooting films, she has vowed never to act again.
The infamous swan dress: an image now synonymous with the artist, it perfectly conveys her intrepid disposition as an aesthete, her playful inclination toward experimentation, and her innate affinity with nature (but more on that later). She wore the dress to the 2001 Academy Awards, where I’ve Seen It All – a featured single from Dancer in the Dark – was nominated for Best Song.
A few years later, Björk went back on her word and appeared on screen in the experimental art film Drawing Restraint 9. Created in collaboration with her then partner Matthew Barney, the film explores the rich visual territory of Japanese culture. The pair plays Western guests aboard a whaling vessel. Those familiar with Barney’s filmography weren’t surprised to see the protagonists strip flesh from each other and eventually transform themselves in whales.
In recognition of her significant contribution to the Internet, Björk was recognised with the Webby Awards Artist of the Year prize in 2012. She followed up in 2013, taking out the people’s voice vote in the Online Film & Video – Music category for the Mutual Core video, part of the Biophilia project.
Further investigating the place where nature and music meet, Björk appeared in the 2013 documentary When Björk Met Attenborough. A significant component of the larger Biophilia project, the two stalwarts of their fields discuss on screen the human relationship with music.
Björk: Biophilia Live is a concert film featuring Björk performing every track from Biophilia, filmed at London’s Alexandra Palace on the final night of her 2013 tour. It premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival and made its UK debut at the London Film Festival. Now Rip It Up and Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas are giving Adelaide audiences the chance to witness this feat of sound and vision. Don’t miss your one-night-only opportunity to experience Björk: Biophilia Live on the big screen.
Critically and commercially admired for her daring sonic experiments, Björk also boasts a masterful understanding of aesthetics. Feast your eyeballs on some of her most iconic images before Björk: Biophilia Live screens at Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas on Tuesday November 21 at 7pm.