With their heads below the Arctic Circle, their feet on the magma, the people of the drakkars have forged their identity in a geography of chaos. The strong connection to nature and climate, the persistence of ancient texts and traditions, make the Icelanders of today the true descendants of the Vikings of yesterday. To tread the hyperboreal moors, to survey deserts and volcanoes, to let oneself be drawn into the immensity of the sky, to face storms and mists, it is always to become one with indomitable nature. Live Iceland means learning since the dawn of time that the unpredictable is the ordinary of the world.
“We don’t live on beauty, but we can die for it.”
The story of a cold but lasting love.
After traveling a lot as a reporter, from Madagascar to Patagonia, from Spitsbergen to Antarctica, I ended up cultivating a particular taste for the great outdoors in high latitudes. One day, I found my promised land. Since then, I’ve made about twenty trips there, from a few weeks to several months. In 2017, I published the book Four Seasons in Iceland (Favre), a great publishing success, which was subsequently reissued.
During all these years, I have also photographed the island in black and white, like a secret garden. Lately, that’s even the way I’ve looked at it exclusively. Beyond the strangeness of the landscapes and the strength of the characters, I sought to capture in flight the raw emotions experienced on this 99.7% volcanic pebble, where I breathe harder than anywhere else.
This is how the book SAGAS was born, to be published in the fall of 2021.
“Was there nothing in Iceland to see but mountains, waterfalls, rugged expanses of land and that light capable of piercing you and turning you into a poet.”
Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Between Sky and Earth
An eternal and contemporary Iceland
With this black and white gaze, I embarked on a journey between imagination and reality, to an Iceland that crosses the ages. The Iceland of dreamlike landscapes, as approached by the Vikings in the 9th century, is as you still see it today, almost untouched. The same Iceland with two hundred volcanoes, with a Dantesque climate, where a people of 360,000 souls have learned to live in contact with fiery nature, knowing that it will always have the last word.
Today’s Iceland still seems to emerge from the sagas of yesterday, those medieval texts in which war and love, end of the world and resurrection mingle. Steeped in Viking mythology, the sagas bathe the souls of the islanders. “Thetta reddast” is their motto, forged by twelve centuries of resilience. She said, “Yes, eventually everything will work out …”
It is this Icelandic soul that I share in this book.
Landscapes and faces
During my travels on these arpents, as austere as they are enchanting, I have met women and men sculpted by the wind and the sea spray. I found on their faces the valleys and lakes, the coldness of the steppes and the warmth of hot springs. People of few words, always upright under storms, their existence has been shaped by the vagaries of the earth, the climate and insularity.
The herders always go to the mountains for a thousand-year-old transhumance. Horses gallop across the tundra, fishermen brave the waves, children make freedom their most beautiful playground. The wooden churches stand as they did on the first day. Traditions survive through the centuries. I went to meet this eternal Iceland, like a miracle torn from time.
My photos show deserts, volcanoes and glaciers, some of the most beautiful waterfalls of a country that counts thousands of them… They explore the highlands of the interior, the majestic Fjords of the West, the glaciers of the South, the black sand beaches, the hills and the lavas. Anyone who is fascinated by Iceland will recognize these iconic landscapes.
With time, I also tried to get away from the tourist places. I took the side roads, against the tide of mass tourism, taking my steps into forgotten regions. I waited for the chiaroscuro, looked for the backlight, took my camera out in the rain and in the blizzard. I tried to capture the moment of a rare light, the print of a mist, the suspended flight of a cloud.
My images suggest the whistling of the wind, the singing of the streams, the crashing of the waterfalls, the silence of the snow, the solitude and the isolation… This book is also an inner journey.
An outstanding rendering
If I appeal to your contribution, it is because this time I have chosen to do without a traditional publisher in order to make SAGAS a unique book-object. For this, I decided to lead the project in partnership with Hemeria. This independent publishing house stands out for the quality of the works it produces (paper, photoengraving, printing, binding), made possible by end-to-end control of the production chain.
The production is entrusted to the company Printmodel®, whose know-how has already been put at the service of photographers such as Raymond Depardon, Jean-Baptiste Huynh, Gérard Rondeau, Vincent Munier, Laurent Ballesta … But also with major luxury brands (Hermès, Dior, Chanel) and major museums.
A layout that invites contemplation
The artistic direction has been entrusted to David Alazraki, graphic designer, painter and frequent traveler himself. The choice was made from a clean model, with short, historical and geographical texts, some marked with runes, the letters of the old Norse alphabet.
We wanted the cover of the book to be raw and metallic, evoking the basaltic harshness of this volcanic island and the echoes of history.
A book … and an exhibition
To accompany the release of the book, an exhibition will be organized in the center of Paris. It will then have vocation to cross France. This exhibition will be an opportunity, for those who wish, to come and pick up the pre-ordered book, to talk about their experience of Iceland or to come and get a little advice to prepare for their next trip (yes, soon!).
Environmental responsibility and sustainability
Hemeria uses only noble materials and in particular paper from sustainably managed forests and produced in accordance with FSC and PEFC standards, in order to limit its environmental footprint. Hemeria also participates in the reforestACTION program: one tree planted for each book sold online.
Book: Technical Info
Size 30×28 cm, landscape
192 pages, trichromy printing, baryta photo print effect
140 B&W photographs
Printing profiles specifically developed
Debossing on cover, H&T black bands
Postal Cards available as a reward.
Totbag available as a reward.
Images available to choose for the 220€ reward
Image A. Avaible as a Inkjet print on Hahnemülhe Baryta 300g paper. 220€ Reward.
Image B. Avaible as an Inkjet print on Hahnemülhe Baryta 300g paper. 220€ Reward.
Image C. Avaible as an Inkjet print on Hahnemülhe Baryta 300g paper. 220€ Reward.
Image D. Avaible as an Inkjet print on Hahnemülhe Baryta 300g paper. 220€ Reward.
Je viens de recevoir Sagas et je suis enchantée par la qualité des photos, le grain du papier qui sublime le noir et blanc, la mise en page et les textes, c’est un très beau livre qui m’a permis de plonger en Islande et me laisser transporter. Magnifique. Et qui donne vraiment envie de découvrir le travail d’olivier Joly,. une très belle surprise