16mm film converted to HD video
Following the catastrophic crash of the Icelandic economy a young painter flees to Venice in order to get peace to work on his art. In a studio the same task awaits him every day: to paint a portrait of a beautiful male model. When one painting is finished they start the next one. While the Icelandic public takes to the streets, revolting against the government, the works pile up in the artist studio by the canal, time passes and the city continues to sink. The repetition and the circumstances increasingly take their toll when isolation, claustrophobia and paranoia set in. In a city that is like a stage set in itself, the boundaries that may have been clear in the beginning get fuzzy. What is life and what is art? The partners can no longer recall why they set out on this journey or if – and then when – it will come to an end. Whose image is it that appears on the canvas every day?
The film is a portrait of an art piece by Ragnar Kjartansson who represented Iceland at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. His piece, The End, was a six month long performance where he painted one portrait a day of a young man in a speedo. Through telling the story of the two characters involved, the painter and his model, As if We Existed is at once a documentation and a fictional interpretation.
The film is directed, filmed and edited by Ragnheiður Gestsdóttir and produced by LoFi Productions.