Icelandic landscape stars the photographic work of alumni Gunnlöð Jóna at KBr MAPFRE Foundation

30 Sep 22 — 16 Jan 22
Location Centro de Fotografía KBr (Avenida Litoral, 30 – 08005 Barcelona)

The photographer Gunnlöð Jóna Rúnarsdóttir, alumni of Elisava’s Master’s Degree in Photography and Design, is one of the participants in the first edition of the photographic exhibition KBr Llama 21, organised by the KBr Fundación MAPFRE. The exhibition, which has the collaboration of Elisava and the photography schools Grisart, Idep Barcelona and IEFC, aims to support emerging creation and the new generations of photographers who are starting their professional careers after having been trained in photography schools in Barcelona.

The exhibition brings together four projects, completed by the photographers Laura Gálvez-Rhein (Frankfurt am Main, 1998), Blanca Munt (Barcelona, 1997) and Gael del Río (Barcelona, 1990), which, in a very personal way, take us to different realities based on the memory of the past or on aspects related to collective identity. In the case of Gunnlod, his work approaches collective histories that give shape to a local reality and identity. Specifically, he delves into Icelanders’ popular belief in ghosts, elves and huldufólk (hidden people) to compose a dreamlike, multifaceted and contemporary portrait of his country, Iceland.

Extreme weather, ghosts and otherworldly landscapes

On the context of his work, Gunnlöð explains: “Coming from a small, isolated island with an extreme climate and landscapes that seem otherworldly, we Icelanders have a unique bond with the unknown. We tend to believe in ghosts, elves and huldufólk (occult people), and many of us also feel a bond with these supernatural creatures. According to a 2007 study by folklore professor Terry Gunnell, most Icelanders do not rule out the existence of ghosts and elves; in fact, many are quite convinced that they do exist”.

“The extreme isolation of the people, who have lived in huts since time immemorial, could be at the root of their experiences of the supernatural. But how can these beliefs be explained today? I interviewed Icelanders who had personal stories related to supernatural experiences and used these narratives as the basis for my images. From the beginning of the process it was clear to me that most of these stories had a common theme and a similar atmosphere. In my work Obscure Presence, the aim is to show these stories and to create a series of images that stimulate this atmosphere”.

About the author

Gunnlöð Jóna Rúnarsdóttir (Reykjavík, 1992) received her Master’s degree in Photography and Design from Elisava in 2019. She currently lives in Reykjavík and works full time as a photographer. She has always had a great passion for art, both visual and scenic. Most of her projects deal with what it is to be human, to dream, to live, to feel and to die. In addition to her personal series and long-term projects, her work focuses on portraiture.