What has always intrigued me in Steingrímur Eyförð´s art is his persistent
interest in socio-psychological questions of folkloric and
popular character. Well known cases of feral children - children fostered by beasts - such as that of Victor from Aveyron, by the end of the 18th century, who François Truffaut celebrated in his unforgettible “l´Enfant sauvage", and Kaspar Hauser from Nuremberg, who was immortalized by Werner Herzog in the equally penetrating masterpiece are a perfect introduction to the strange realm of bestial anthropology.
But instead of such famous cases Steingrímur Eyfjörð draws on more curious examples of the phenomenon, where children are brought up by birds, or in henhouses. From birth the Portugese Isabel Quaresma lived for ten years in a chicken coop where she survived off bread crumbs thrown to the chicken. Her mother was a mentally handicapped rural worker. When, in 1980, she was saved by a hospital worker and brought to a Lisbon clinic she could not walk, nor was she used to living under a proper roof. She ate with her hands, gestured, and made sounds like a chicken. Presumably owing tomalnutrition she had a tiny head on a severely stunted body and one eye was blinkerd by a cataract.
There are numerous accounts of feral children in Icelandic folk tales, especially connected to animals which people believed to be humanoids or spellbound humans, such as polar bears and seals. But there are also numerous accounts of children substituted by fairies and males transformed into giants by ogresses inhabiting the Icelandic wilderness. In all such legends there are socio-psychological implications to be found which wait to be deciphered. Steingrímur Eyfjörð is among the very few artists to dare attack these popular accounts and legends, so deeply rooted in our collective conscious, and turn them into a contemporary poetry of latent psycological signification.
Halldór Björn Runólfsson.