Hidden in the far northern coast of Iceland lies the tiny island Hrísey. With a population of about 120 people, and land area of less than 8km², I was intrigued by the inspirational opportunities that the island might offer. In my preliminary research on Hrísey, I discovered that even in its isolation, Hrísey is home to the legend of a terrible, monstrous ghost. It is said that the ghost was created by flaying a calf so it dragged its hide by its tail, and was conjured by a sorcerer suffering from an unrequited love, determined to haunt the woman who rejected him. The ghost, called the Bull of Þorgeir, was given the elements of man, cat, dog, air, bird, mouse and two sea creatures so that it was able to take on all these forms. Though a small detail in the history of the island, this shapeshifting, proverbial chameleon of a ghost served as my entry point.
I think sometimes we as people forget our place in the world, and where and how we came from it. We can change this world as much as we want, we can tear everything down and build everything up again but that won’t change the fact that we are all no more than elements of the same system. We don’t just happen to the world, we are a part of it, no matter how far we stray from our original nature.
The landscape on Hrísey is immense and staggering, it is a shockingly diverse, daunting beauty. However, like the rest of our world, it is no more than just a compilation of natural components. Land consists mainly of crustal elements such as rock, sand, or soil, and can then be topped with terrestrial flora. This body of work puts human beings back into the natural environment that they came from. I chose three fundamental elements of the Hrísey landscape: rock, grass, and tree, to use to create a mask that would reintegrate a person into their natural terrain. To put it simply, these photos show a human reflecting the landscape that they were born from, and blending into the systems that have stood the test of time. By covering the face, individuality is revoked and humankind becomes one with nature once more. Even on an island that has been inhabited since the 10th century, human influence has not taken away the raw power that untouched nature holds.