Friday, January 13, 2012

Field Essays - Iceland 1

Field Essays meets Reykjavik (smoky bay)!

Day one proved one of changes of plans, 
and brought about some wonderful first encounters here in Iceland,
Thanks to my hosts Brynhildur Pálsdóttir and Tinna Gunnarsdóttir.

The workshop at the Iceland Academy of Arts will start monday - the plan today was to go visit photographer Pétur Thomsen in Sólheimar, a sustainable village community of about 100 inhabitants, one –icy– hilly road away from the capital.
The icy road and the non-functioning window wipers brought us to another place - Tinna's parents' home, a beautifully furnished apartment with a view on the bay (smokey indeed, today). After a delicious lunch and switching cars (for an even bigger four wheel drive) we headed for Hafnarborg, the home town of Brynhildur, and the unbuilt neighborhood of Hafnarfjörður, which will be the site of inquiry of this Field Essays. 

Hafnarborg is a place with a distinction - you are from there, or you aren't. Bryndhildur grew up there, but now lives in Reykjavik - her childhood friends still wonder about this. By contrast, Hafnarfjörður is an area that is still looking for its sense of place. Pétur Thomsen says about it: " What makes this area an interesting subject for a photographer is that it graphically portrays the situation in Icelandic society today, and the immense developments that took place all over the Reykjavík area during the past few years. A new neighbourhood is taking root in nature, right next to a nature reserve. But the downturn in the economy has slowed the development down. A lot of the property around there is now for sale, and many building foundations have been left untouched for some time. Events in the Icelandic society influenced how the project turned out. Within six months from its beginning the Icelandic economy collapsed." Hafnarfjörður is a very disputed place, not in the least because a large aluminum factory was implanted on the nearby coast. (Watch Dreamland to get an insight into the issues at stake...)

Walking around the area on unfinished roads between unlit lamp poles, it is as if time paused, to render the impact of human activities in nature startlingly visible. Here, a dilemma is made tangible - if "everything mankind creates is nature" (since mankind is in itself nothing else than nature) [quote from Aun, The beginning and End of Everything, by Edgar Honetschläger], then what is going on here?

To be continued...

Ps Note that the last image is a former potato storage. Compare it with the middle class and social housing developed in Hafnarfjörður!



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