Bjartur in Laxness’s “Independent People” proclaims: ‘The chief point, and the point towards which I have always directed my course is independence. And a man is always independent if the hut he lives in is his own. Whether he lives or dies is his concern, and his only. Otherwise, I maintain, one cannot be independent. This desire for freedom runs in a man’s blood, as anybody who has been a servant to another understands.’ The sprawling novel built around Bjartur portraits him as a single-minded character, who acts in brutal ways to protect his meagre outcome in a ferocious landscape in a time when Iceland emerges into modernity. Today’s country is a far cry from that portrayed by Laxness but the staunch desire and also necessity for independence remains deeply rooted. With its roughly 350,000 inhabitants in the middle of the Atlantic, the country cannot depend on neighbours or supply lines close by. As a community, Icelanders have translated this into the maximum possible self-sufficiency, where the harsh landscape provides for much of what this micro-nation needs. I began “Independent People” in the summer of 2017 in southern and western Iceland. The desire to portray how Iceland’s independence is visible in the landscape, beyond the traditionally shown Icelandic landscape photography, is the reason for this project. I also see this in the wider context of the Anthropocene, the age in which the activity of humanity becomes irreversibly imprinted on to our world and the pressing need to develop a more sustainable form of being.
Venue- New Art Exchange