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I went to his studio in the Friedrichshain area of Berlin to meet him and the trolls.
He works here with a team consisting of some affable German artist assistants, two Icelandic interns and, of course, two trolls.
“I did not speak French so I spent a lot of time learning it, but I also attended circus classes taught by an old clown and we would communicate through the universal language - sign language.” The skills of physical movement and clowning have entered his practice. Seeing the work of Paul Mc Carthy, Dan Graham, Mike Kelly, contemporary dance and Picasso, were all really important to me.” Sæbjörnsson reminds me first of his Celtic roots, which are obvious when looking at him: with his large, high forehead he could easily be cast in Hollywood as a Viking warrior.
He knew he wanted to be an artist from a young age.
But this is made more credible by being the Icelandic pavilion; the Icelandic Art Centre has a history of anarchism, matching the country’s “plow your own furrow” attitude.
In 2015 Swiss artist Christoph Büchel (now based in Iceland) presented a fully working mosque, the first in Venice, in a formerly abandoned Catholic church.
He remembers having few friends in kindergarten but that his facility in drawing and winning drawing prizes made him happy and gave him a position.
“When I hold a record cover I project myself into it and I could fall into the music.” He recalls holding the record sleeve for “Long Tall Sally”.
“I could see myself in a sleazy bar in New Orleans.” He sees things “filmically”, saying several times during our conversation “we are all in a movie in some way”.
I ask Sæbjörnsson about the genesis of the trolls and he says he first spied a troll in a gift shop in Oslo airport in 2007.
“Just as well they are not here as they are unpredictable.
They are ferocious by nature and have thought in the past of eating me too.
The coffee made them excited and the sparkling water made them burp, which made them laugh and want to drink MORE epressos and MORE sparkling water”.