Category Archives: Industry

Tourist Herding in Iceland, a Class Act

There is an uncanny resemblance between these images. Note the object of the photo watching from within it.

Note how she looks off to the side, leaving the balancing point as white ice.

Note the reaching out and goofy eagerness, set against nature as if it were a part of it.


Note the cool self-assurance by which the non-human actors make the real statement in the scene.

Note the fragile sense of vulnerability of modernity and the troubled gaze out of class, strengthened by class achievement yet never certain.

Note the deliberate dissemination of confusion. You are being led around by people who have been herdsmen and fishermen for 1100 years, after all. As Margret told me last summer, you never know who is the elf and who is the human. You never know,.

Note how Icelanders dress as the visitors do to make everybody comfortable with these arrangements.


Funky, eh. Yeah, well, be strong.

Or blend in.

Iceland’s Golden Age?

Contrary to images like this…

… it isn’t now. This is the golden age:

Ríkarður Jónsson’s Bird Falling Apart in Djúpivogur

There isn’t enough money to keep Iceland of the 1970s, at the height of the herring fishery, in good shape anymore, so such wonderful European gestures languish, in favour of a new kind of colonialism, the eggs of Merry Bay:

You can read my post on them, here: https://afarminiceland.com/2019/11/20/the-eggs-and-petroleum-tanks-of-icelands-merry-bay/

Don’t get me wrong, they are wonderful, playful, joyous and exquisite, but they are also global. That is the price of staying in the game when the herring go away. The sad thing is, this very real and honourable Iceland (for all its aesthetic colonialism, it is, at least, Scandinavian and European)…

…is barely findable in the tourist information of the country, or online, or anywhere, as if Icelanders are either so embarrassed by their past they want to hide it, so used to tourists not caring that they keep it to themselves to protect its honour, or so used to the government putting up this and that that to them it’s just another government project. Meanwhile, they want to be part of the global world, not of distant Reykjavik. What a bind! Now Iceland is trying to train tourists to be respectful.

Inspired by Iceland launches new tourism campaign Iceland Academy (PRNewsFoto/Inspired by Iceland)

Being respectful to art or history is not really the point. That distance from government is very Icelandic, although not always positively so.

A Social Lesson in Climate Change from Iceland

Time is a tricky thing, even in Iceland. On the South Coast, for instance, where lava has taken many farms away since settlement over 1000 years ago, and where people with no better means to independence eked out a subsistence living between the moss and basalt, power poles walk across the landscape towards Reykjavik. It’s there, in “modernity”, that most Icelanders now live, yet the power that sustains them and guarantees them the wealth to maintain their independence in a global world, walks across their past to get there and turns it into nature.In other words, to look at this landscape is to look at time, over a thousand years of social time included, through the lens of a great emptying. This sense of time is the price Icelanders must, perhaps, pay to belong to the world, but the cost is emptiness. It empties out the land, and empties out the past and empties out the soul. In short, one becomes dependent on the present and can no longer live in the fullness of time.  This is not just an Icelandic issue. Today, as the Earth empties of life, we are all paying the price for this defense against each other. What a tricky balance!

Dangerous Icelandic Lagoons

Lagoons remind us that the “shore” is a zone made as much by the sea as by the earth.

And no place for humans. It is a dangerous place, where energies are not settled.

We can visit, but to live there? No, we’re too fragile. And yet, from them we draw life. No, not this one:That’s the effluent of a geothermal power plant, sexed up. Don’t be fooled.

The Impromptu Art Galleries of Iceland

Farmer Art

Tourist Art

Guesthouse ArtGovernment Art

Really!

Ewe making art.

Elvish art viewer.

Tern  art.

Tourists who think they are in Köln art.

Tourist art.

4×4 Art

Elf art.

Local tourist board art. (Really. They lay down netting to prevent overpopulation and erosion, the bane of puffin sociability.)

Teenagers running the wool shop and campground art.

Tourist stacking art, with tern artist.

Iceland is art!

The Green Spirit Stone of East Iceland

The view from Blábjörg.

You don’t see green lava everyday. It looks like it came from the bottom of the sea, but it came from deeper, flowed across the land…

Notice the Campers Rushing Past to See All of Iceland in Three Days

… and into the sea, which has been talking with it ever since.

The thing about land and sea is they don’t rush past.