This photo series is about how narration can affect and create a desire. Visiting Iceland was Rebekah DePretis dream until she flew from Pittsburgh to Keflavík this past August. This series will not show you the great majesty of Iceland instead you will experience its starkness until you feel the tiny one in the land of Vikings:
Fifth grade, many years ago, was the first time I had ever heard of the country of Iceland. Our history teacher had a soft spot for Vikings and would spin us tales of the formidable Nordic travelers who sailed the globe, conquering uncharted territory and plundering unsuspecting towns just for fun. Yet when these tyrants of the North were washed up on the black sanded shores of a tiny, uninhabited island sitting in the very middle of the North Atlantic, they were so struck by its fertile beauty that they named it Iceland, in clever attempt to deter anyone else who may want to venture there. To be extra sure, they even chose the name Greenland for Iceland’s icy neighboring island, to attract any straggling settlers. Needless to say, wide-eyed, curly-headed me was intrigued and ran home those days after school to tell mom all that I had learned about Iceland. Throughout the following years, my obsession only grew. My high school journals were graffitied with Icelandic doodles and dreams and my college dorm walls were plastered with my favorite images of the island’s volcanic formations. In a way, I think I was searching for that childhood feeling of being small in a world so big. Iceland seemed like the only place where I could get that feeling back. After I graduated, I finally decided that I owed it to myself (and had saved up enough money) to take the trip. Late this past August, my boyfriend and I flew from Pittsburgh to the Keflavík airport and for the following 10 days took our rented camper van (endearingly named Junior) to circumnavigate the island via the Ring Road. In just the first day, we saw such a wide array of landscapes; steaming crystal geothermal pools, jagged fields of black volcanic rock, soft rolling hills of moss cut in half by streams and waterfalls, towering green mountains shrouded by mist and cloud. It was so much more than what I had anticipated. But what I was most struck by was the grand scale and absolute lack of human development. To this day, Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe and it shows. We felt like foreigners on a distant planet and, at times, completely and utterly microscopic. Not in a lonely way, but in a way that makes you feel as if you’re a part of something big. It was the feeling I had been searching for for a long time. For the rest of the trip, we ran wild through the country. We swam in mountain pools, we visited the famed Sólheimasandur plane wreck, we got lost in the fog more than a few times, we socialized with the docile livestock and wild long-maned horses, and we even made a few friends, native Icelanders, descendants of the formidable Vikings. Iceland was a photographer’s dream, and I took pictures of everything. The photo series I created while I was there, Ísland, wasn’t really meant to capture the grand majesty of Iceland but was instead meant to encapsulate the feeling of starkness, isolation and smallness that I had been seeking and had found.