When the recent eruption of the volcano in Iceland turned out to be substantially more harmless than previously thought, people began visiting the crater to see what it looked like.
For the first time in more than 800 years, Mount Fagradalsfjall began to discharge molten lava after Iceland had experienced 50,000 earthquakes in the run-up, preparing the locals for an unpleasant fiery climate.
While the site was originally blocked off, the complete lack of ash and pumice stone that was spewed into the atmosphere ultimately meant that thousands of people flocked to see this monumental force of nature in action.
Among those people were Donal Boyd and Frank Nieuwenhuis, a pair of photographers looking for a breathtaking moment of solitude with the volcano and an opportunity for the shoot of a lifetime.
What they found was that instead of sitting quietly, connecting with the power of nature, listening to the wind and the narration of their thoughts, they had more or less attended something akin to a music festival.
Residents of Iceland since 2015, the two produced a short film titled Volcano for the people, bravely choosing to devote her precious filming and screen time to viewers, with reflections of fire and awe in her eyes. They hoped to capture the human element, which they felt made the eruption totally unique.
A festive spirit
“They could go to this unique type of eruption that was not explosive, that didn’t spew ash into the air, and they could just sit there and just relax and try to take it all in,” says Boyd.
“The news spread so fast on social media that the road was formed [as] one step became five steps into 100, and before you knew it there were literally, I think by day four or five, there were thousands of people going there a day. “
“There were many people who were investigating the birth of our planet, or the creation of the earth, because literally the earth is being created right in front of you; new land, ”says Nieuwenhuis. “And this whole country has been shaped by lava, so right in front of us this country is being created and shaped even more.”
“People called it almost like a performance,” intervenes Boyd, speaking to GNN through Zoom. “Like you’re going to see some kind of festival and they’re all together and you’re connecting and you’re like ‘oh yeah, did you go to that festival?'”
“Some people have been there multiple times like ‘okay, I’ve been to day four of Volcano-fest 2021, yeah, did you go to day three? Yes, I was on the third day, ‘”he said, simulating a conversation.
“What I felt was that everyone who attended that event was very happy to be around people, and then when I saw that people needed help, people who were too old or too weak to do the walk, or people who had the wrong shoes, or people who didn’t have flashlights … people started helping each other, ”Nieuwenhuis said of the camaraderie.
“I think it was really because of COVID, because we had no people around us [for so many months], we were much more grateful to be around other people, and I think maybe if there were [hadn’t been] COVID, people would have been a little more selfish there. “
A fully democratic natural phenomenon, the only controls placed at the event by Icelandic Search and Rescue consisted of guiding people away from areas that were being bathed in noxious gases, but according to one of Iceland’s most sacred laws, there was nothing what the government could do to prevent people from coming to see the volcano, as Icelanders have the “right to roam” on any vacant lot they please.
“In fact, I think now, having experienced this with so many people, maybe before this event I would have been more selfish and said ‘I know I wish this was more controlled and I would love to experience this for myself. Nieuwenhuis said. “But I really hope there are no restrictions in the future, except for security.”
(LOOK Mount Fagradalsfjall short film below).
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