When I saw the work of Caroline Fuchs, Appeltjes van Oranje, the mannequin children playing in outrageous bizarre clothes, I connected the piece to the changelings in the old folk tales of my country Iceland, called “þjóðsögur”, because I thought they looked so creepy! For a very long time these “þjóðsögur” only existed orally, they were passed down from generation to generation. In the stories about the changelings, elves would steal an infant and replace it usually with an old elf who would take on the image of the infant. This changeling would cry relentlessly, be greedy and behave mischievously. The parents did not know what hit them! In the tales when the mother realizes that she is actually taking care of a changeling she often tries to harm it, she beats and kicks it. Cue a strange old elf-lady to enter bearing the true child in her arms and she usually says something like: “I cherish and love your son but you abuse my husband!” Then she leaves the child with her mother and leads her husband away. The “þjóðsögur” are still told today and read and enjoyed. They are one of the most important parts of our cultural heritage. People also make references to them in everyday life, for example when a child is behaving badly people will call it a changeling.
Thursday, September 10, 2009