Category Archives: Architecture

The Purpose of Trees in Iceland

In Iceland, trees wash up on the beach after swimming over from Siberia, which is fun.

Borgarnes

Their purpose is much like that of moose antlers in Canada or Alaska: nail them to the front door to honour wilderness… or a viking ship mast. Or a viking curse.

This is why Icelanders are such fine film makers. They are good at staging dramas in real time.

The Art of Cairns

When you are caught by a veið, or a plane of gaping energy, that can devour you without a trace…

… where everything (and soon you too) is thrown, or strewn, around without sense…

… it’s best to create memory, and sense, or you will be lost, literally. Cairns like the one below are the Parthenons of Iceland. Don’t touch.

And don’t make more! That would be like destroying Shakespeare.


Even if the highway-building crew starts it, please resist translating cairns, energy gathered from throws to make wide space close, into an image of yourself as witness. This isn’t magic or art. It’s architecture and language. The path to history through them should remain open. If not, why go to Iceland?

~

Images from between Hafragilsfoss and Dettifoss, as well as on Highway 85 to Vopnafjörður.

Beautiful Raufarhöfn

This graveyard in a part of Iceland rarely visited fills me with joy. The church, like so many, is an imported thing, steeped in nationalism, colonialism and paternity, but the graveyard, ah, that is 1100 years living all at once.

And in a way that has no words, at least not yet. To date, it exceeds the capacity of the literary writers of Reykjavik, far to the southwest, but I like to think that some kid, alone here just below the Arctic Circle, is living the moments right now that in a decade or two will give it voice. What a day to look forward to!