Obscure Presence

Student/s: Gunnlöð Jóna Rúnarsdóttir
Promotion: 2018
Study: Masters Communication Area

Coming from a small isolated island with extreme weather conditions and almost unearthly landscapes, we, Icelanders have a unique connection with the unknown. We tend to believe in ghosts, elves, “huldufólk” (the hidden people), and many of us even have connections with these other-worldly creatures. According to a study conducted in 2007 by folklore professor Terry Gunnell, the majority of Icelanders do not rule out the existence of ghosts and elves; in fact, many are wholly convinced that they exist.

The extreme isolation of people living in cottages decades ago, might have justified their experiences, of hearing and seeing something unknown. But how can we explain this belief today? I interviewed Icelanders who have personal stories related to supernatural experiences and I used these stories as a basis for my images. It came clear to me early on in the process that the majority of the stories had a common theme and a similar atmosphere. In my project “Obscure Presence”, I aim at showcasing these tales and at creating a body of images that propels this atmosphere related to them.