There’s no doubt, Iceland is a crazy country. Most of the year, you can’t go outside because the insane wind just blows you away, the cold gets underneath your skin and the darkness wakes up your deepest depression. The only thing that keeps you alive is staying inside your super warm and cosy house, lighting up some candles, listening to (Christmas) music and doing indoor friendly activities, such as knitting, reading a book or writing a
thesis blog in my case. If you think that it can get pretty depressing, you’re right. It’s cold, dark, you’re inside your house, alone. But under these specific circumstances your mind is suddenly full of thoughts and your heart can’t handle all those feelings and emotions that you want to express and share with other individuals struggling with the same situation as you. And this is when time for art comes. You try to keep your mind occupied and your heart fulfilled. You create.
Iceland as a country with a bit more than 300 000 inhabitants has (un)surprisingly a great number of even greater artists. I’ve had a chance to take part in an artistic residency in the west part of Iceland for a period of four months. During this time I’ve had the opportunity to see incredible theatrical performances, hear breathtaking musicians and be in the middle of interactions between Icelandic and international artists. All that time I just kept wondering how it is possible that a country with such a small population has so many talented people. I have asked many locals and all of them agreed on one thing; there’s nothing better than art when it comes to expressing emotions.
Several decades ago, Iceland, as many other nordic countries, used to be home of depression, anxiety, sadness and loneliness. Very few people live far from each other, very often on isolated farms, with almost no possibility to interact, but more importantly, with no willingness to socialize. Icelanders are not social. Icelanders enjoy their calm simple life full of solo activities such as fishing or taking care of sheep. If you want to have a quality time in Iceland, you need to be ready to be alone. A LOT.
A great change occurred when people found out the beauty of art and its importance in everyday life. Today, more and more Icelanders use art as a way to express themselves and deal with their personal issues. Many artists are being discovered every day, which enriches this already impressive artistic scene. In this small community, influence is crucial. After all, it is much easier to create art if you know that your parents, grandparents, best friends, neighbors and classmates do so. And inspiration is everywhere. Just look around; some days I can’t even trust myself.