During a residency in Reykjavik in the summer of 2018, while recording images near Iceland's Nesjavellir geothermal power plant, I was approached by a strange person, dressed head-to-toe in hazardous material protective equipment. I only managed to capture this one photograph, accidentally, as l quickly panicked and put my things away upon noticing them.
They came across as quite friendly, immediately assuring me that my lack of safety gear didn't put me in any danger -- that they were working with the surrounding energy operation, and that there were some interesting things taking place below-ground in the region.
Their darkened visor made it impossible to see their face, or discern anything about them. They had a deep voice, but an occasional ring of metallic distortion gave me the impression that they may have been speaking through a machine.
They asked me many questions about the work I was doing, quickly fixating on the research I had recently been conducting into the multinational Consumer Goods giant Unilever. While it is not possible for me to properly summarize the conversation here, throughout the exchange they repeatedly launched into long, conspiratorial tangents, intimating a close familiarity with the company. They made numerous vague, cryptic reference to an ongoing situation implicating Unilever and various multi-billion-dollar private equity firms, holding companies, concrete manufacturers, and weapons contractors.
I grew increasingly uneasy as the conversation went on, but after about half an hour they bid me farewell and walked back towards the valley. They had already left my sight by the time I remembered to set my camera back up.
Three days later, I received an email from an anonymous address linking to several folders of mysterious video, audio, and image files. This project represents my ongoing attempt to piece the contents from these messages into a relative whole, as coherently as I am able.
In the months since, I've continued to receive similar messages, carrying similarly cryptic files and images. The authors simply identify themselves as 'Redfield', although I suspect this might be some kind of joke.
There are indications that the material originates from a planned product-demonstration video that Unilever had intended to show to its board of directors. I believe it was a collaborative project between British brand development firm Wolff Olins and Unilever Canada's internal marketing department. The frequent annotations and uncertain tone suggest that it may have been in its planning phase. It doesn't seem to have ever been completed. The product in question appears to be a derivative of its Imperial Margarine brand, dyed in a variety of lurid tints.
Unilever sold its margarine division, one of its two founding commodities (along with soap), to private equity firm, Kravis Kohlberg and Roberts (KKR), in December 2017, for $8 billion. This may have been the company's final effort to extract value from its margarin assets, but I suspect that there's something more than a margarine demo taking place here.