Geographies of Crisis in Icelandic Photography

Article in Danish in the Scandinavian journal for visual culture Ekfrase.

Skærmbillede 2015-01-22 kl. 20.31.11 From: Aðflutt Landslag, Pétur Thomsen

In an article in the latest issue of Ekfrase I analyse photographic representations of changing landscapes in contemporary Iceland. Using media-specific attributes of photography, the images become laboratories of the time and space of vanishing and remodelled places.

The various artworks included deal with places that disappear, evolve or seem abandoned, and most of them relate directly or indirectly to narratives found in official visual culture and statements, and thus renegotiate the spatio-temporality of place-making. Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson’s series Waiting deals critically with the temporality of changing urban spaces where progress and development is paused and resisted.

Skærmbillede 2015-01-22 kl. 20.25.55

Baggar (from Waiting, http://www.ihragnarsson.com)

In Pétur Thomsen’s series photo series Aðflutt Landslag one detects an ambivalence towards the aesthetics and ethics of the intervention into the Icelandic highland by the construction work following the ever-growing energy industry. Thomsen’s images dwell on the obvious beauty of the ruptures, diggings and open layers of soil in an unsentimental but highly aestheticized way.

Skærmbillede 2015-01-22 kl. 20.30.25Pétur Thomsen (from Aðflutt Landslaghttp://www.peturthomsen.is/imported-landscape/)

The overlapping crises of economy, environment and self-image in Iceland have fostered critical representations of the past, present and future of the human-environment relationship, an investigation into the basic narratives of collective values, as well as of the physical traces of recent developments. Thus, utilitarian environmental policies and shallow ecology are treated critically by a number of Icelandic artists (Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir, Rúrí, Ólöf Nordal, Goddur, Hlynur Helgason and others), as is the question of which values and forces are tied to the glocality of intimate surroundings and remote landscapes.

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