Journey



For ‘Day for Night’ I travelled to Iceland twice, in the Summer of 2009 and the Winter 2010.

As I travelled all around the island, 38 people from all walks of life, were willing to take part in ‘Day for Night’. The people I invited were those I met along the way or were recommended to me. We talked at kitchen tables, a power plant, ministeries, in gardens, nature parks, harbours and restaurants. We spoke in English, which most Icelandic people speak well.

In the Summer of 2009 the Icesave debacle came to light (See also page Introduction). Before that time, not many Icelanders had heard of Icesave since it was an internet bank operating only abroad. They were in absolute shock, realizing that the amount of money they would have to pay back to the Dutch and British Icesave ‘victims’ was around € 12.000 per Icelander (since Iceland’s population is only 320.000).




Summer nightscapes

I used the Reykjavik Almanac to determine the best time of the summer night to photograph. The Almanac contains the precise positions of the sun for each day of the year. Each phase of the day is indicated by a term: Dögun, Birting, Sólris, Hágedi, Sólartad, Myrkur, Dagsetur.

In June and July the sun hardly sets and, because of the midnight sun the nights stay bright and energizing. In late August, however, it is only around 6.00 a.m. that there is enough available light for photography.

It was absolutely fascinating to photograph at night, but the nightscapes took their toll:
During the day I spotted suitable locations for the nightscapes, as well as taking portraits and doing interviews. As the weeks passed by, it took more and more time to recover from my photographing at night. Some hard days’ nights!




Quest and questions

I asked every participant in 'Day for Night', the same three questions:

1. What in life is most precious to you?
2. How does this economic crisis affect your personal and/or professional life?
3. What changes are necessary for Iceland to overcome this crisis and achieve a sustainable economic future? What could you do to contribute?

Travelling in Iceland's spacious and timeless scenery reduced me to an inner silence, which deepend each day. Plenty of time to think about my own answer to the first question I asked the participants: 'What in life is most precious to you?' 'Love & beauty'. That's what I would answer. But exactly what do these words mean to me? And, moreover, do I live up to my own answer?




Winter dayscapes – Icesave Referendum

In January 2010 I returned to Iceland to finalize the project and photograph the landscapes in the winter light. Although the winter days were short, with only 4-5 hours of daylight, the light reflected on the snowy mountains was bright and full of colour.

I portrayed and interviewed 6 new people, amongst them the Minister of Finance Steingrímur Jóhann Sigfússon, whom I met on a domestic flight. He immediately agreed to take part in ‘Day for Night’.

The Icesave dispute was at its peak: the Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson had refused to enact the law to pay back the Icesave bill (which already had been approved by the Icelandic parliament) and referred any approval decision to a referendum to be held on 6 March 2010, where it was subsequently rejected. As a result of that, in 2011 the Icesave case was taken to the European Free Trade Association Court (EFTA).




Icelandic Saga = Greek Tragedy

I was invited to embark on this fishing boat named Örn (meaning 'Eagle'), to photograph the stunning beauty of the Westfjords as observed from the sea. As we slowly progressed, the sounds of the icy, crispy, crystal clear water, tinkled in my ears.

However, the Icelandic banking crisis was never far away: one of the kind fishermen of the Örn told me that because of the crisis and the loss of his savings, he could not afford to have his damaged teeth repaired...

Four years later in January 2013 the Icesave debacle was 'solved' in the EFTA court, meaning that the Icelandic nation/government could not be held responsible for the failures of commercial banks. Due to strict austerity measures and IMF regulations, Iceland's economy has been recovering slowly since 2009, thanks also to its thriving fishing industry.

Meanwhile, in Southern Europe a Greek Tragedy unfolds, telling the same story over and over again: a bankrupt nation, desperate citizens protesting in the streets, the EU pumping in billions to secure its own existence and to rescue the Greek economy.

When do we wake up to sustainable economics?