I was in Iceland all last night, in my dreams. Before going to sleep I watched Part II of Heima, the gorgeous Sigur Ros film (more like a long music video/travelogue) from 2007 (thanks to Roberto and NetFlix)—which I can’t believe I’d never seen, given how enamored I am of Sigur Ros and all things Icelandic. In 2004, on my way to an Olafur Eliasson exhibition in Oslo, I stopped for several days in Iceland for the sole purpose of driving alone in that surreal landscape while playing their music—which is so eerie and beautiful I can get weepy just listening to it on my iPod while riding Metro North. The idea may sound hokey, but it totally worked—except for when I was freaked out. My plan was to drive from Reykjavik up to Geyser, around the coast to Grindavik, and end up soaking in the milky, steaming mineral waters of the Blue Lagoon. I had a map that showed a road by the Arctic Sea, with numerous place names, which I assumed to be quaint little fishing villages. Instead the “road” turned out simply to be a driveway-like leveling of the gravel and the place names just that—places, perhaps inlets, someone had once named. I drove for hours in my rented Toyota (with its seemingly unlimited gas tank) without seeing any evidence of humans or habitation, the only road signs being those that said “Blindhead”—which meant that the narrow road I was on was about to go over a rise where I wouldn’t be able to see any vehicles that might be approaching from the other side. The prospect of a head-on collision was scary, but not as scary as it would have been if I’d actually seen another vehicle the whole time I was driving. I would come to the top of one of those hills, hoping to catch sight of a house, a barn, a fence—anything, off in the distance, a restaurant or gas station being too much to hope for—but each time there was only the endless empty ribbon of road, stretching on and on….
Somewhere in Iceland, 2004