As in many other debt-stricken countries, the taxpayer had to pick up the bill after the financial crisis in 2008. Debt accumulated by the few is now owed by many. The bill left to the Icelanders is inflation, tax increases and rising unemployment.
The Eyjafjällajökull eruption on the 31st of March. Icelanders drive their jeeps to the glacier to watch.
In Reykjavik cold-water swimming has become overwhelmingly popular after the economy collapsed. Swimmers make their way to the beach by the light of a police car.
A light drizzle sprinkles the sea off of Reykjavik. On the waterfront, unfinished luxury apartments loom over the city.
Before the crisis, Valdís Thorkelsdóttir was touring the world with Björk. Now she performs mostly in Iceland, as touring expenses nearly doubled during the crisis. The upside is that the cultural scene on the island is now more vibrant than ever before.
Surkula and Kata live in an anarchist collective in downtown Reykjavik. They blame overconsumption for the crisis, and feel Icelanders have themselves to thank for the mess they are in.
Police tape warns of impending flooding as a result of the first eruption in Eyjafjällajökull. Einar Jón and Thorarinn Helgi play around it.
Ari Hultquist and his Finnish girlfriend Hanna Kaasalainen share a beer. Ari is half Swedish, half Icelandic. His nationality depends on the topic or who is talking to. “Icelanders can be so narrow-minded”, he says.
In a nightclub in Reykjavik, portraits of «the financial Vikings», the individuals responsible for Iceland’s misery, line the urinals.
In some areas of Hafnarfjördur, a suburb to Reykjavik, half of the apartments stand empty. Soffía Stefánsdóttir’s newly built luxury apartment is one of the few that were finished before the construction company went bankrupt. She uses the derelict neighbouring apartment for storage.
Hellisheidi is the largest geothermal power plant in Iceland, and is the main supplier of energy for the citizens of Reykjavik. The strong smell of acid permeates the air, sometimes even reaching the city.
The aluminium smelter brought prosperity and hope to the East region. Another smelter is planned in the North, a region also struggling with depopulation.
“Krepputorg” (meaning crisis-mall) is the nickname of the most oversized shopping mall in Iceland because it was built just before the collapse.
Fishing boats from Rif on the way out to the fishing grounds.
The fishing boat «Esjar» on the fishing grounds outside of Ólafsvik.
The free hot pot in Nauthólsvik became increasingly popular after the crisis. Here you can get warm after swimming in the cold sea.
Ólafsvik, with its strong fisheries, is one of the least affected communities in Iceland. A «dream municipality», according to those who live there.
Icelandic horses in Hvalfjördur.
The Eyjafjällajökull eruption was a welcomed change of subject for the Icelandic people, momentarily distracting them from their economic hardships.
The geologist Júlía Katrín Björke visits the geothermal energy field Reykjanesvirkjun with her friend Erna Knutsdóttir. Erna used to take busloads of tourists to this area, but due to overexploitation of geothermal energy the ground is collapsing and it is dangerous to walk around.
Fish is the most important export commodity in Iceland. Most Icelanders are against EU membership because they are afraid to compromise their independence.