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Embassy of Iceland in Washington DC

Arctic celebration and opening of photography exhibition Glacier

The exhibition Glacier by renowned Icelandic documentary photographer Ragnar Axelsson opened on May 22 in the Embassy of Iceland in House of Sweden in Washington DC. To celebrate this and the start of Iceland´s Chairmanship in the Arctic Council the Embassy hosted a Arctic themed reception and a conference on doing business in the Arctic.

The evenings guests of honor were Ambassador of Arctic Affairs and SAO chair Einar Gunnarsson and photographer Ragnar Axelsson (RAX). Iceland´s Ambassador to the United State, Mr. Geir H. Haarde opened the evening and welcomed guests. Ambassador Gunnarsson presented an overview of Iceland´s Arctic Council Chairmanship agenda and Arctic policy. During the Icelandic Chairmanship Iceland will emphasize the Arctic marine environment, climate and green energy solutions, people in the Arctic and welfare issues, as well as a stronger Arctic Council.

Ragnar Axelsson (RAX) is one of Iceland’s most prominent photographers. He has chronicled life in the Arctic through his lenses for many decades having traveled on multiple occasions to all the arctic countries to document life and nature in the high north.

Ragnar´s new book and exhibition “Glacier” is an ode to Iceland's glaciers. Having grown up near the glaciers and flown his plane over them countless times since, Axelsson has a deep affinity for the ice that has shaped the country's land and psyche, as well as his own lifelong fascination.

The photographs, taken in the past ten years, are at once elemental and ethereal, dynamic and timeless, unfamiliar and intimate. With near-abstract black-and-white aerial images, and short reflective texts, Glacier is a breathtaking view of glacial forms, textures, and patterns as seen from a lyrical flight that starts above the clouds and ends at the sea. Surface details of the ever-moving ice, brought into sharp relief by volcanic ash, show powerful natural forces at play, but unseen and unstoppable forces are also at work. Nothing can be done to prevent Iceland's glaciers from melting away. Within the next two centuries, they will be gone forever.

The Arctic theme continued in the Embassy on Thursday 23. May when a conference on „Doing Business in the Arctic“ was organized in cooperation with the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce, the Arctic Economic Council and the Wilson Center´s Polar Institute. The conference chair was Jon Sigurdsson, Chairman of the Icelandic American Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Össur. H.E. Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland was among participants in a panel on investments in the arctic and gave a speech about the focus of Iceland during the chairmanship of the Arctic Council 2019-2021.

The exhibition Glacier will be open for public in House of Sweden on weekends until 11 August 2019.

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