A man was named Thorarinn Nefjolfsson. He was an Icelandic man from the North country. Thorarinn was not noble by birth but wise and well spoken. He was uglier than other men particularly because of his awkward limbs. He had big, ugly hands but his feet were uglier by far. Thorarinn was at Tunsberg in Norway when this event took place. King Olaf had him at his court for a few days and talked to him. Thorarinn slept in the king´s chamber.
One early morning the king was awake whilst others sharing the room were still asleep. The king saw that Thorarinn had put one foot out from under the blanket and he observed the foot for a while. Then other people in the room woke up.
The king said to Thorarinn: I have been awake for a while and have seen something that I consider worthy of attention. It is a human foot
which is surely the ugliest to be found in this town. Everyone present agreed that this was most certainly the case.
The king said: I will make you a bet that no uglier foot can be found in this town. Thorarinn said: I will bet against you that I can find an uglier foot and he immediately put his other foot out. It was indeed very ugly and, besides, the big toe was missing.
Thorarinn said: This is surely an uglier foot because a toe is missing and I have won the bet.
The king said: The former foot is uglier having five disgusting toes whereas this one has only four. I conclude that I have won the bet.
From a young age the medieval story of Thorarinn Nefjolfsson and his dealings with the king of Norway has been vivid in my mind. Years ago I used to make art works commemorating persons, events and phenomena from the past or even the present, amongst them a Monument to theBurning of Njal, In memory of the ghost Mori of Irafell and a Monument to the Mountain Fog. Now I want to create an installation in memory of Thorarinn Nefjolfsson who sought to become the king´s courtier. The installation comprises four visual poems and two videos. Two of the poems consist of five sculptures each whereas the other two contain several multiples on walls.
Someone recently asked me why our cultural heritage, like f. inst. the sagas, appears so often in my works. I answered that this was not done by design. On the other hand this so called heritage is such an important part of my being, my presence and consciousness that it often forces its way into my works and activity totally uninvited. That reply could also apply to the present exhibition.
-Magnús Pálsson, 2007