Contemporary Landscapes

The exhibition Contemporary Landscape is an exhibition (at Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur) with the works of 12 Icelandic photographers focussing on Icelandic nature. Nature, which has been depicted in many different ways in Icelandic photography over the years. In the early days it was manifested mainly in the form of “postcard” views, showcasing wild and spectacular Icelandic landscapes. But in recent years different trends have emerged in the field, highlighting other factors, such as the role of man himself.

 ”In the middle ages, people were tourists because of their religion; today, they are tourists because tourism is their religion,” observed the Most Rev. Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1988. A quarter of a century on, his comment has lost none of its relevance. One could perhaps maintain that in past times, although man lived in closer proximity with nature, there was a clear distinction between the two, in that man was, in a sense, a visitor in the landscape. Travel was not for ordinary people, but a luxury that only a tiny wealthy elite could afford. Today things have changed, and travel and tourism are taken for granted. The perceived need to place our shared natural heritage on a pedestal is no longer so urgently felt. Many more people travel and see Icelandic nature for themselves, and so it is natural that other factors should feature in this field of photography.

Most of the photographs in the exhibition Contemporary Landscape illustrate these changing ideas. Weather, perceptions of time and space, and man in nature are the starting points, in combination with more traditional approaches, creating a fresh and diverse vision. The photographers turn their lenses on anything between heaven and earth – literally: the space between something and nothing in the landscape; memories and sensations; tourists in Icelandic nature; the feminine in the landscape; urban nature; landscape viewed through a car window, on a tour around Iceland.