In Iceland, the strength of the territory commands respect, mixed with this strange feeling that these landscapes are inhabited. Along the roads, at the detours of the lava fields and the basalt cliffs, are scattered sites with disturbing stories, populated by trolls, elves and huldufólk (“the hidden people”). But it is the same in Reykjavik, in the suburban cities or the remote villages. Here and there, lava rocks are left intact between two buildings, a few meters from a villa or even in the center of a block of residences. The toponymy of the streets or districts confirms the personification of these places: Álfhóll “the mound of the Elf”, Enbui “the hermit”, Borgir “the City”, the Latur stone “the lazy”, Dvergastein “the dwarf”… This surprising cohabitation at first sight and which gives rise to smiles illustrates however a double reality: the modernity of the Icelandic society and its town planning in full development since the Eighties, and the significance of the tradition and the thousand-year-old beliefs. Michel Eisenlohr, photographer of the trace, of light and of the sensitive, undertakes here to take up a challenge: to photograph the invisible… Inspired by tales and legends, guided by the research of ethnologists, geographers and archaeologists, he offers us an immersion in these natural or urban places and makes us aware with images of this immaterial heritage. An unprecedented dialogue between modernity and beliefs.
Michel Eisenlohr, the photographer author
Born in La Ciotat in 1974, Michel Eisenlohr has been an author-photographer since 2002. Rocked by travel literature, it was in the Dogon Country that he produced his first images, then he continued his reportages in France and abroad. His photographic approach, like a story, seeks to capture the spirit of cities, the memory of places and to transcribe the relationships between people and their beliefs. It is resolutely part of a literary and poetic approach, leaving space to the spectator and his imagination.
Christophe Pons, the ethnologist author (text)
Anthropologist, director of research at the CNRS, at the Institute of Mediterranean, European and Comparative Ethnology, Aix-Marseille University. He specializes in the religious ethnology of contemporary European societies. On the Nordic countries, he has published Le spectre et le voyant (PUPS, 2002), Les liaisons surnaturelles : une anthropologie du médiumnisme dans l’Islande contemporaine (CNRS, 2011) and Jésus, moi et les autres (CNRS, 2013).
Michel Eisenlohr : Huldufólk
Michel Eisenlohr (photographs) – Christophe Pons (text)
Jeremy Mercer (English translation)
Editor Arnaud Bizalion
FF 24 x 16.5 – 64 color pages + 16 text pages, 35 photographs, hardcover, free spine – French-English