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320 Icelanders

Varvara Lozenko

Published on 25/03/14

© Var­vara Lozenko

When I first came to Ice­land in sum­mer 2007 I was amazed by the con­trast between the vast unin­hab­ited and immacu­late space, look­ing exactly like it did 200, 300 or 500 years ago and the tiny pop­u­la­tion num­ber­ing just some 320 thou­sand people. Also, I found it strik­ing how very mod­est the people are in respect to nature: no pipelines, no factor­ies, not even any man-made his­tor­ical monu­ments of a UNESCO-ish import­ance. I ques­tioned a num­ber of Icelanders why they think their coun­try is so dif­fer­ent from any other places. The most com­mon answer was ‘Because we are so few: there are no crowds, no com­pet­i­tion, no stress. We are not each other’s rivals the way it is in so many other coun­tries. We have learnt to respect everyone’s unique­ness and live in a com­munity where every­one is import­ant.
And I decided to pho­to­graph 320 people by the num­ber of thou­sands of the country’s pop­u­la­tion. Every por­trait stands for 1000 people. That’s why I needed to travel all around the coun­try and take por­trait pic­tures of Icelanders of dif­fer­ent age, social status, doing dif­fer­ent jobs, from farm­ing to fish­ing, car­pentry, cargo driv­ing, preach­ing and bread-baking. It had to be young, middle-aged, eld­erly people, chil­dren and babies. So far I have taken pic­tures of around 160 people dur­ing 3 trips to Ice­land. I pre­sume that I need some­thing like two more months in Ice­land to accom­plish my pro­ject, bring the por­trait num­ber to 320.

So far I can say for sure that every per­son from the ‘320 Icelanders’ pro­ject has been a unique exper­i­ence, a story — a shorter or a longer one — in my life, for which I feel very thankful.

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