Witness │ Christopher Lund
The photographic exhibition Witness is opening in unusual times, when its subject has temporarily disappeared. The visitor, in Iceland to see cascading waterfalls, advancing glaciers and surf crashing on the shore, is absent. Iceland’s nature is alone once more./*php $markup = $content['field_mynd_stor']['#markup']; $markup = str_replace('typeof="foaf:Image"', 'typeof="foaf:Image" class="lightbox"', $markup); $content['field_mynd_stor']['#markup'] = $markup; */?>
Who was that visitor? Were they invited here? Who were they visiting? What were they seeking? What brought them here, from far away? We have a range of words for such visitors:
Gestur (guest) – a person who has been invited. We are the hosts, and in accord with age-old tradition we are responsible for making our guest feel welcome and at ease, and ensuring that they have shelter, food, transport and guidance.
Ferðamaður (traveller) – travelling through, not necessarily anybody’s responsibility.
Túristi (tourist) – a term that clearly entails that the person does not belong here, is a stranger, even a nuisance – a word that prompts ideas of “them” and “us.”
The words we use reveal a certain attitude to the people who come here. We have tended to take a negative stance, relating to our difficulties in addressing the challenge of receiving so many visitors (guests, travellers, tourists) in recent years.
Iceland has an image of pure, wild nature. That is its biggest attraction.
Our guests come to Iceland seeking to experience nature and connect with it, and with themselves as well – for humanity is an inseparable part of nature.
Perhaps we took umbrage that our guests were here primarily to encounter themselves, not us – and so we turned our backs?
By focussing on the tourist – the witness – I wanted to take a step towards them, and break down the invisible wall that seems to exist between us. So I became a witness too.
Now, when foreign tourists are absent from Icelandic nature, and it is clear that in the summer of 2020 our tourists will be Icelanders, I wonder whether there is so much difference between us and our foreign visitors? Aren’t we seeking a connection, too?
I hope that this summer Icelanders will rediscover the treasure we have in our country, and in ourselves.
Christopher Lund grew up in the world of photography and in his career, he has photographed people, events, landscape and architecture. He has travelled extensively through Iceland and captured the landscape in all its different forms.
For further information about the photographer visit https://www.chris.is/*php $markup = $content['field_mynd_stor']['#markup']; $markup = str_replace('typeof="foaf:Image"', 'typeof="foaf:Image" class="lightbox"', $markup); $content['field_mynd_stor']['#markup'] = $markup; */?>