series Icelandic Reality – New Landscapes consists of 16 colour
and black-and-white photographs that comment Icelandic conceptions of
nature and landscape in different ways. The subject matter of the images
ranges from suburban views of Reykjavík to a Coca Cola machine
found in the East Coast wilderness, from reproductions from How to Plant
Trees –brochure to landscape paintings at an old peoples’
home. The series was photographed in June-July 2005.
What is especially intriguing in the Icelandic nature and landscape conceptions is that many such scenic elements as forests and parks, so self-evident to most Europeans, are relatively unnatural and definitely quite recent phenomena in Iceland. Trees bigger than the arctic birch have successfully managed to be grown in Iceland first from the beginning of last century; the first park in Reykjavík, that even offered benches for sitting, was opened in the 1920s. Forests and landscaping with trees in general also awaken conflicting opinions: Landscapes with wide-open spaces are considered the Icelandic national landscape, which many feel needs no changing or bettering.
With the images in this series I wish to comment the relations that exist between the ideas of originality and nationality, and the practice of factual landscape planning. It is also good to remember that none of these have a very logical history behind them: There are those in Iceland who think that Coca Cola is an Icelandic national drink and that high-rise tower blocks provide the best view to mountain landscapes for the most residents.