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Burnout! Hafnar.Zine #2


"It was a pleasure to burn."

So begins Fahrenheit 451. And it is. Or, it can be.


Burnout is the consuming of one's entire resources in the pursuit of a project. It can be a pleasure to push oneself, to test one's limits. To try things you've never done. To move into uncomfortable territory. This is all necessary for creative work. To try new things and make mistakes and try again. The reality of producing anything creatively is that, for most, it's not our main gig. It's something we have to make time for, something that has to fit in around the rest of our lives. This kind of overwork can feel rewarding at times – frustrating at others. It can also be extremely draining. Creating anything can lead to burnout if pushed far enough.


Yesterday Hafnar Haus launched its second issue of the Hafnar.Zine, and though it was only the Haus's second issue and it was only the last day of February, the theme of burnout seemed apt.


I first encountered Hafnar Haus a few weeks ago, after a long, dark, isolated winter newly arrived in Reykjavík. Hafnar Haus is a very large co-working space covering, in parts, three floors above the Reykjavík Museum of Art. About 350 people work there, which is pretty remarkable for a city of about 140,000 people. It's also the reason I was surprised it took me so long to find out it existed at all, since one key question I kept asking just about everyone I met was: Where do all the creative people go to work? The answer I encountered most was a shrug. But the real answer seems to be: They go to Hafnar Haus. There you'll find musicians, designers, writers, artists, translators, filmmakers, and a whole range of other professionals working across creative industries in Iceland and internationally.


When I first arrived, around the end of January, the first issue of the zine had just come out. It was a bright yellow collection of creativity, bound together with a sticker set. This was also around the time of the Reykjavík Winter Lights festival, and the Haus was hosting several events as part of a whole series taking place across the city.


In the weeks that followed the Haus hosted a handful of concerts, took over a shop, held poetry nights, produced a couple of episodes of a podcast, ran an international arts residency which produced two installations, and facilitated a whole raft of social events. And this is just scratching the surface of all that goes on underneath.


It's easy to get caught up in such a conflagration. By the end of the month I'd spoken at one of the Tuesday Talks, helped out at a curated poetry night, also helped with the shop, and was editing Hafnar.Zine issue 2. I was seeing new friends already exhausted by the work they were doing – by the end of February. Creative projects need fuel to burn, and we're the kindling.


Is this sustainable? I hope so, because I'm here for another 11 months.


The zine is, at the moment, only available in print so you'll have to take my word that it's a gorgeous production. It includes a crossword, instructions for a game, poetry, artwork, and other great pieces. And if we have enough kindling to burn, there'll be another ten coming throughout the year.


We launched the zine – not quite completed – at the closing night of the Hafnar.Shop. After a couple of words of introduction and a few readings, the matches were used to burn the one copy we had at the time – a brief flare of warmth in the cold night.


Then it was back to work, printing and folding 200 copies today. Even after the flames burn and peter out, the work continues on.







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