Heike Ollertz & Edgar Herbst – Iceland
Iceland is not only a Nordic island of pristine nature, its people inured by long summer nights and cold winter months. It is also the world’s largest volcanic island, situated on the Mid-Atlantic ridge and growing up to 2 centimeters (0.78 inches) a year. The upstream of hot rocks from the bowels of the earth replenish the island’s shifting continental plates. Iceland’s earth lives and rocks and spits and boils, but it is also covered to more than ten percent in ice. The treeless plains and mountains are very close to the earth´s origins. Wild would be an understatement. Here, one feels and sees the inferno, from which the world evolved, the eternal wind blows across a panopticon of sensations as in “Jurassic Park”, though without dinosaurs. But with people, who have learnt to survive in such surroundings. Nearly all of them live crowded together in the capital city Reykjavík, in a country that otherwise averages two to four houses every forty thousand square meters. It is this land that I want to encounter photographically like no other: To depict its magnificent nature, how the people live with it and acquire the characteristics their environment requires.
Few, if any, know better than Heike Ollertz how to work with a heavy medium-format camera, day and night, in winter or summer, rain and snow, patiently awaiting the right lighting conditions and sharpness to photograph landscapes, houses or harbours. In her first illustrated book, “Ireland”, commissioned by mare, as well as in many of her subsequent photo reportages, she skillfully employs her hand-crafted Alpa with its 6 x 9 cm (2.4 x 3.5 in) negatives. Her analogue photography ensures genuine colours and natural moods devoid of affectation. Iceland has no need of digital image processing.
Both photographers travelled for more than six months criss-crossing Iceland: Ollertz with a four-wheel drive and in venturesome boats to capture the icebergs at exactly the right moment before the northern lights or aurora borealis. Autumn in a camping van, driving from a wedding to a musical festival, from the disco to a lonely fisherman. Always searching.
The supposed desert, with scarcely a tree or a bush, is actually a kaleidoscope of colours and forms.
Nikolaus Gelpke, publisher