Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Primordial Landscapes: Iceland Revealed

A Smithsonian staff member in the hall outside Iceland Revealed exhibit
The founder of my organization, Feodor Pitcairn, is a very accomplished nature photographer.  Though he worked in his family's financial business, his true love was photography.  He began his photographic career making stunning, natural-light undersea still images, then graduated to undersea videography.

At 80 years old, he has forsaken diving (too dangerous, he claims; he has related some really "close calls").  Now he photographs terrestrial landscapes with very high-end camera equipment.  He has spent the last several years making expeditions to Iceland, which resulted in an exhibition of his work at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

Mr. Pitcairn collaborated with Icelandic poet Ari Trausti Gu├░mundsson to "reveal a land of fire, ice, hardy life, and natural beauty. Visitors to the exhibit experience the remote beauty of Iceland, a land sculpted by the elements and forged by active geologic activity."
Enjoying the exhibit
Mr. Pitcairn organized a bus tour to Washington for a small group of his friends for the exhibit's opening on June 30, and Kali and I were invited to come along.  It was the culmination of years of work, and he was in "seventh heaven."
A beaming Mr. Pitcairn
A well-known Icelandic folk troupe with the (translated) name "Seasons" happened to be in town on tour and entertained the crowd during the reception.  During the mingling after the formal speechifying, Kali and I had a chance to speak with the Icelandic Ambassador to the United States and former Icelandic Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde.  He gave us his card and invited us to contact him if we wanted some "special considerations" should we choose to visit Iceland.

Though Mr. Pitcairn's images are striking, Kali's not much motivated by stark, sere landscapes.  I doubt we'll take Mr. Haarde up on his offer.   


packrat said...

What an outstanding experience for you and Kali, Scott. Looks like a great exhibit. I'd love to visit Iceland. A few years ago my sister-in-law had to go there on assignment with the State Department, and she really liked it. I think I read that until its recent financial crisis Iceland had one of the oldest and most successful democracies in the world.

robin andrea said...

Looks like a very cool exhibit. I think I would like to see Iceland and a lot of other very far off places, but I don't travel by plane or boat. If I could be "beamed up" to all the places of my dreams, I'd take a day-long trip every week.

Mark P said...

I'm not sure I could pass up those "special considerations."

When I started working in Huntsville back in 1986 one of my coworkers tended to take odd vacations. One year he went to Iceland. He took the road that goes all the way around the island, camping along the way. He really enjoyed it, but he said he wouldn't want to live there because "you can never go outside." I took that to mean the weather is never what we could call clement.

Scott said...

Packrat: Everyone with whom I have ever spoken about visiting Iceland has reported a positive experience. I'm sure Kali would like it, but now she's got an "I'm not going to Iceland" mindset that I doubt that I can budge. Our financial advisor is getting married soon and Iceland is one of his honeymoon options; I'll see what he has to say.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: The exhibit is very nice and I'm glad we had the opportunity to "preview" it at a private reception. I don't know about your idea of being teleported to exotic locations, though; that sound's a little bit more dangerous than airplane travel. Kali and I do have to admit that we've become more leery of flying as a result of the crazy German pilot's suicide and the disappearance of the Malaysian jetliner.

Scott said...

Mark: I know that Mr. Pitcairn was foiled in some of his photographic forays because of the weather. Of course, he was trying to get dramatic images so, for him, bad, cold, windy weather was sometimes his preference. Ambassador Haarde didn't say what the "special considerations" might be, we could contact the embassy if we ever decided to go.