Everyone has a story

“People say that he just lay down by this rock and died suddenly, the rock’s still there…because of this it hasn´t been removed” says one of the people interviewed by the photographer. This is the nature of the world shown to us here, places that have been allowed to stand, objects that have been left unchanged,  and every one of them seems to have a story.  Just like the people who live there. In this book they tell their stories, and the photographer tells us stories of the world they inhabit. Their world.   

Appearances can be deceiving; we are reminded of that. People choose their own path, some do, and others get caught up in the waiting.  “He stayed there for ten years, he’d often sit by the window looking at the stars convinced that when he died that’s where he’d go… and I think that’s where he went because the presence of his ghost was never felt in the cowshed” says another interviewee. He who speaks has become blind and his eyes can no longer register the beauty surrounding his farm located in the region of Meðalland, where glaciers rise above lava and sand.  That picture however is vivid in his mind’s eye and he intends to die in the same room where he was born, in the house on the farm where he has lived his life and entered the darkness of old age. And possibly a trip to the stars awaits him.

The people we meet are loners-some were left behind, others sought solitude-and we get to take a look around in the world of their stories. What we see is a picture of an Icelandic reality; country and farm life, land of open space and mountains, ocean and pastures, dogs and sheep, shepherds and smiths.  Some are fixing the tools they need for farming, for others the farm animals have been put down and the outhouses are no longer in use, still the heating of the house needs to be attended to, weather reports need to be listened to, papers need to be read and a nap can be taken while watching the news on TV. Time passes slowly in this world, the photographer has in fact frozen time for us. What we see is Iceland at the present time, not the countryside we spent so many summers at back in a bygone age. This world however seems almost untouched by the time that has passed and reminds us of the world of the old loner Axel, a character in Tréfiskur that brilliant story by the author Gyrðir Elíasson.  The loner Axel would frequently takes trips down memory lane with his imagination as a travel companion, to a place where anything can happen.

At night, when he was unable to sleep, he sometimes heard a knuckle tapping the window glass; if the curtains were pulled quickly to the sides shadows would retreat and he would grab the flashlight, shine it outside, only to see himself in the glass, black circles under the eyes. Next he’d reach for the thermos and pour himself a cup. Then he’d doze off, and that’s when the shadows instantly made their way through the bedroom walls, sat down in various places, on the desk, in the rocking chair, on the windowsill and some on the bed in front of him, flickering shadows. Thus passed the Thermosnights (13).

The same is true for us, the audience of this publication,  thanks to an ambitious documentary photographer we make our way through bedroom walls, we sit down and observe, get to know people. It is an interesting experience, these flickering shadows, brought to us by a pure-form and intriguing approach, where details, objects and form draw a vivid and comprehensive picture of the people that invite of for a visit. Accompanying the photographer.  

 Text by Einar Falur Ingólfsson