Jessica Auer
Jessica AuerCrater and Campers, 2019, from the series Looking North, 2016-2020.
Photo: courtesy of the artist

Canadian photographer Jessica Auer has been documenting the impact of tourism on the landscapes and small communities of Iceland since 2016, when she relocated to the village of Seyðisfjörður in the East Fjords. In Looking North (2016 – 20), she surveys the tourism boom that led the economic recovery after the country’s devastating 2008 financial crisis, as she settles into quotidian life on the island. In this photographic series, which juxtaposes intimate domestic spaces against tourist destinations and infrastructures, she considers how the sparsely populated island country is commodified for sightseeing. Working from her studio in a decommissioned fish factory, she photographed cruise ships gliding past her kitchen window. With each year, more ships dock in the harbour, releasing throngs of tourists on the shore. They disembark in search of lava fields and glacial waterfalls. They watch seabirds, bathe in hot springs — and take photographs. Auer’s 2020 video Shore Power documents the rituals of mass culture that transform landscapes into Instagrammable moments. She studies the cruise ship industry and the tourists who collect images that make land available for capital accumulation.

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This article also appears in the issue 111 - Tourism

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