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the ash-streaked ice walls of the Sapphire Ice Cave.

Ice in His Veins

Upon entering the cave, I become immediately wary of its integrity. It would be a rather foolish way to go. This apprehension endures for all of two minutes, however,
as the mind, seemingly bored by its own alarm, begins to wander. Few profound thoughts emerge, aside from the somewhat flaccid observation that being inside an ice cave is vaguely like standing inside an Iittala glass. After another two minutes, the unease has dissipated completely, and later, I find myself following our guide deeper and deeper into the darkness, utterly devoid of any reservations.

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Churning Onward

Gunnar Birgisson’s journey as an entrepreneur has seen many unexpected detours. As the CEO of Reykjavik Creamery – an American dairy processing plant located in Newville, Pennsylvania – Gunnar’s story spans both continents and conmen, bringing him from Akureyri to Denmark to California in search of a way into the US dairy industry, where he would eventually carve himself a niche specialising in skyr production using ultra-filtration technology – the natural way to optimise the nutritional value of fermented dairy products.

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Friðrik Gíslason. Westman Islands

The Westman Islands Army

Iceland’s largest town throughout the pre-modern period was not Reykjavík, which for most of its history was little more than a collection of small farms. One of its largest was Heimaey, or “Home Island,” in the Westman Islands archipelago, just off the south coast. The first Icelandic census of 1703 shows only 318 people living […]

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Elín Elísabet Einarsdóttir

Wielding Narrative

History is a fairly new academic subject in Iceland, having first entered into university curriculums in the 1970s. The discipline is a form of intellectual time travel that puts historians in charge of bringing information from past to present – a task made immediately more complicated by the distortion of context. Put simply: history is […]

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Helga Páley Friðþjófsdóttir

The Dwarf with the Ear

People who travel through space often have poor digestion because their internal clock gets thrown off mid-air. Time travellers such as myself on the other hand, get a ringing in their ears, sometimes long before we even set off. The ringing is constant, a sign of our continual desire to exit the moment. You can […]

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baby swimming

A Splash of Happiness

Long before I got pregnant, I heard about parents in Iceland taking their newborns swimming from a colleague of mine who joined baby swimming classes with her infant. She shared her experiences online, and in one of her videos, her four-month- old son stood unaided in the hands of his swim teacher. I was intrigued; […]

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architecture Kirkjusandur apartments

Building Blocks

“Our city belongs to all of us. It’s so much more than a collection of buildings.” To architect Jórunn Ragnarsdóttir, a city is an organic entity, a collaboration between the architects who design its buildings and the inhabitants who populate them and traverse the streets between them. Jórunn is one of Iceland’s most respected architects […]

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Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir rithöfundur

A Difficult Read

Every New Year’s Eve for a decade, Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir made the resolution to write a book. It took a while, but in 2019, Magma was published – a harrowing story about how a young woman loses herself within the confines of an emotionally abusive relationship affected by the pornification of society. It was published in […]

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Þórólfur Guðnason

Doctor’s Orders

Over the past 18 months, Þórólfur Guðnason has gone from quasi-anonymous medicine man to bona fide historical figure. Along with Director of Health Alma Möller and Director of Civil Protection and Emergency Management Víðir Reynisson, Þórólfur forms the so-called “troika” – the face of the government’s response to COVID-19. He’s Iceland’s Anthony Fauci: the imperturbable voice of reason and restraint. It’s a complicated role predicated mainly on credibility, demanding a certain immaculateness when it comes to personal precautionary measures.

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State Of The Artist

THE PLUMBER For many years, the minimalist composer Philip Glass worked as a plumber. He did this not only before he started composing but also alongside his music work. Once, while installing a dishwasher in a SoHo loft, he glanced

Seyðisfjörður

In Due Force

Autumn’s gauze curtain On Sunday, October 3, Hlöðver Hlöðversson stared into a camera in Northeast Iceland. He wore a cream-coloured cap, a grey jacket, and a stern expression. Behind him, there was mist and marshland – only that marshland would not have been an accurate description of the landscape a few days previous. “Is this […]

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