Locating Iceland - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Locating Iceland

Locating Iceland

Published September 7, 2007

Photographer Spessi (Sigurþór Hallbjörnsson) is a graduate of the Akademie Voor Beeldende Kunst, in Holland. Spessi’s photography has always focused on capturing the extraordinary of the ordinary and the beauty contained in deconstructing the simplicity of everyday occurrences.

His book Bensín (Gasoline) was an inspiring meditation on the subject of gas stations, a most ordinary thing, full of meaning and texture when placed in front of Spessi’s lens and exposed as a unique place. His latest book follows the same trend. Titled Location, it is a series of photographs taken around Iceland. But unlike many books of photography from Iceland, it is not dedicated to the exhilarating landscape, but rather to the everyday and ordinary Iceland. “I have always wanted to do a book about Iceland,” Spessi says, “but I was never able to find the right way to approach it.” “It all starts with the title,” he continues. “In order for me to know what the book is about, I needed a title, or a concept to work from. As a photographer, I am always scouting for locations, and taking photos of locations for other works. Then I got this idea, to explore or define the concept of location. That’s how it came together.”

Spessi explains that he spent about three years collecting photos for the series, shooting “little snapshots” of Iceland. “I try not to spend much time taking each photo. I want to capture the subject the way it is, without becoming too involved with the subject. But I often take several photos in the same location, changing the angle a bit every time, and approach the location in a different way.”

Although none of the photos contain people, Spessi describes them as portraits of people. “Some of the locations are people’s homes or offices. Then I include the living room, the bedroom and the storage room, that can often be as telling of a person as a portrait.”

The Location series consists of several smaller series, each taken at a different location. The locations range from the small town Eskifjörður on the East coast of Iceland, the Kárahnjúkar dam project, the suburban Breiðholt, a community centre in Snæfellsnes, a car dealership in Reykjavík, and the Icelandic countryside. “I just tried to cover the whole country,” Spessi says. “The photos are aspects of the whole country, inside people’s homes or workplaces and out in the country.”

The book was designed by Hjalti Karlson, at KarlsonWilker Inc. in New York and distributed by D.A.P., Distributed Art Publishers Inc.

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