SAGAS Islande

For over ten years, Olivier Joly has been criss-crossing Iceland along its tracks and trails. He has trodden the hyperboreal moors, surveyed the deserts and volcanoes, and let himself be drawn into the immensity of the sky. Beyond the strangeness of the landscapes and the strength of the characters, he has captured the raw emotions of this volcanic land.

His black-and-white vision, the language of time immemorial, takes us between imagination and reality to a timeless Iceland. An Iceland of dreamlike landscapes, a Dantean climate, 130 active volcanoes, where a people has learned to live in contact with a fiery nature that will always have the last word.

Along the way, he met men and women sculpted by the wind and sea spray. People of few words, their existence has been shaped by telluric hazards, climate and insularity. Their souls are still bathed in the sagas, medieval tales of war and love, the end of the world and resurrection. “Thetta reddast” is their motto, forged by twelve centuries of resilience. It says: “But yes, everything will work out in the end…”

Under the watchful eye of Olivier Joly, farmers continue to head for the mountains on their age-old transhumance. Horses gallop across the tundra, fishermen brave the ocean, and children make freedom their greatest playground. Taking the back roads, he has travelled into forgotten regions, watching for chiaroscuro, defying backlighting, taking his camera out in the rain and blizzard.

His images share the moment of a rare light, the etching of a mist, the suspended flight of a cloud. They suggest the whistle of the wind, the song of streams, the crash of waterfalls, the silence of snow, solitude and isolation.

 

The book

«With their heads below the Arctic Circle and their feet on the magma, the people of the Drakkars have forged their identity in a geography of chaos. The powerful link with nature and the climate, the persistence of ancient texts and traditions, make today’s Icelanders the true descendants of yesterday’s Vikings. Treading the hyperboreal moors, surveying the deserts and volcanoes, getting caught up in the immensity of the sky, confronting the storms and mists, you are always at one with an indomitable nature. To experience Iceland is to learn from the dawn of time that the unpredictable is the ordinary of the world.»

SAGAS Islande is a unique book object published by Hemeria. This independent publishing house stands out for the quality of the books it produces (paper, photoengraving, printing, finishing), made possible by its end-to-end control of the production chain. Production is entrusted to Printmodel®, a company whose expertise has already been put to work for some of the world’s leading photographers.

Artistic direction was entrusted to David Alazraki, graphic designer, painter and frequent traveller himself. We opted for a streamlined layout, with short historical and geographical texts, some marked with runes, the letters of the ancient Norse alphabet. 

We wanted the cover of the book to have a rough, metallic finish, evoking the basaltic harshness of this volcanic island and the echoes of history.

In the press

«SAGAS is a black-and-white album about the marvelous that you have to wait hours for. A ray of light that illuminates the summit of a mountain like a neon sign, a man diving like a raven into the 5°C waters of a fjord, the face of a troll carved into a lava field… Paying homage to the very real inhabitants or the fantastic creatures of what we call here the hidden people, this book is a vibrant ode to the forces of nature.»

GEO

«Anyone who has traveled the planet has succumbed to the mineral charm of this wild island, sculpted and shaken by telluric forces. But also to that of its inhabitants, who, marked by geography and climate, are endowed with a remarkable resilience. Wandering his lens from craters to glaciers, from geysers to waterfalls, from valleys to endless plains, he delivers images in black and white, often constructed with the precision of an engraving.»

Femme Actuelle Voyage

«Behind each of his shots, we perceive the hours of waiting, the solitude, the vibrations, the emotions felt before capturing the organic beauty that emerges before the photographer’s eye.»

Acumen Magazine

«Rediscover this island in all its simplicity and sensitivity: a ridge line, grasses bending in the wind, a flowing stream, a low cloud, children climbing a hill, a swimmer emerging from the pale sea. Olivier Joly brings us his experience of the Icelandic landscape, capturing its unvarnished beauty. And we see greatness in it.»

AR Magazine

«From unreal landscapes to metaphysical emotions, Olivier Joly transports us to Iceland. A unique country where you can imagine yourself on a timeless escape.»

ELLE

«Olivier Joly is an adventurous reporter who loves to explore the wilds of Iceland. After twenty or so trips, the island has become his secret garden, but above all a place worthy of his immoderate love of wide open spaces, people of land and sea, inner journeys and Nordic mythology.»

Embarquements

«Brilliant inspiration, for the island of ice never seems so exhilarating as under the torment of a leaden sky, in the misty nimbus of a geyser or the powdery wind of a relentless blizzard. Olivier Joly celebrates both Iceland and the art of photography, supported by a publisher who has made print quality a true identity. A radical vision of a country that is no less radical.»

Grands reportages

«The look in Betty’s eyes as she prepares to spend several months alone on her farm, the silhouette of three horsewomen, the face of a breeder etched by nature and this sculptural fjord bather, a Viking rising from the waves: the human presence is strong in this magnificent book, rich with over a hundred photos but purged of all clichés.»

La Voix du Nord

«A beautiful object containing 140 photographs that exude the country’s frozen beauty. Places where you shouldn’t despair of the melancholy sky: in an instant, a ray of light can slant between the low clouds, shining a spotlight on the monotony of this black-and-green universe of rocks and moss.»

Ouest-France

«Great reporter, Olivier Joly invites us on an Icelandic photographic adventure with this superb book shot in black and white. During his travels, the author met men and women sculpted by wind and sea spray.»

Trek Magazine

The Exhibition

The SAGAS Iceland exhibition was presented in 2022 and 2023 in Paris, Geneva and Boulogne-Billancourt.

It is composed of black and white images. The 32 prints are presented in series of four, eight and sixteen photos, in four formats (40×40 cm, 42×32 cm, 40×60 cm and 60×90 cm).

The photos are printed on Hahnemühle Baryta Satin 300g paper by Yonnel Leblanc at Initial Labo in Boulogne-Billancourt.

They are framed in veined black American box and brushed steel. Others have a 6 cm passe-partout under a frame with anthracite grey moulding, protected by anti-reflective museum glass. 

Galleries, private lounges and public institutions can host the SAGAS Iceland exhibition. Art mediation and lectures on Iceland on request.