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Very Hidden People


Adam Panczuk

Modern Icelanders. Most of them don’t believe in God, the majority can’t imagine joining the EU, many deny the economic rules of the world but there is something more than nature that they do believe in and have a respect for. Hiddenfolk, the hidden people – elves.

The social science department of the University of Iceland conducted surveys in 2006 and 2007 on the beliefs of Icelanders in occult phenomena. The result showed that 62% of those asked believed that it was possible, likely or certain that elves and hiddenfolk existed.


In times ruled by economic calculations, Icelanders spend extra millions of ISK building national roads not following the shortest route but around elves’ rocks or hills. There were enough examples of broken tools, machines, arms and legs of the workers to act against the wish of elves. After economic crisis Hiddenfolk were again, as in ancient times, the symbol of the longing of a distressed nation for a better life and for some magical solution to its problems. It is the nation´s literary creation in some sense, but also its distorted mirror image.


 

Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341927

Sigurlaug Dagsdóttir "I wrote an essay about swains. They had the role in the folk beliefs of being the Prince Charming, like the prince on the white horse. The stories of swains illustrate the status of women in older times, the swain appears as a kind of liberator, a response to the cruel reality of women´s lives.

Husavik, Iceland - 28/06/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341922

Hekla Elísabet Aðalsteinsdóttir, "One time when I was little I went to a summer cottage. I made a very pretty ballerina out of clay and then I went out to play. When I came back the ballerina was gone. My mother said an elf had abducted the ballerina and taken her for a wife. I believed her completely. I´m a little more doubtful now."

Reykyavik, Iceland - 10/10/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341924

Ólafur A. Thorlacius from Öxnafell "My aunt on my father´s side saw hiddenfolk in a cliff across from our farm. She had friends there as a child. We would go there often and look for elves when we were kids. We scoured the rocks looking for an entrance to the elf world and came to the conclusion that the hiddenfolk wouldn´t want to have to walk through jagged edges and preferred to enter through the smoother side of the rock.

Öxnafell, Iceland - 23/06/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341923

Kolfinna Þórisdóttir, "Sometimes I see a black wolf moseying about around me. He is stocky and muscular. I can often see him when I go out for a drive, he seems to follow the car as I´m driving off. But I´ve also seen him in other places, like at home for example. He feels like a force for good, he wants to protect me. Does he come from the elf world? I don´t know. There´s no way to know."

Reykyavik, Iceland - 29/10/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341921

Þórhallur Guðmundsson, "I´ve really delved into books on Icelandic folk beliefs for a long time and immersed myself in hiddenfolk culture. It´s a fascinating world and yet treacherous; people can get hooked and suddenly they´re seeing elves in every nook and cranny. I always stay on the look out in case they pop up."

Reykyavik, Iceland - 09/10/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341972

Emma Kolbeinsdóttir from Eyvík,"One time an old man from a neighboring farm said that he had seen hiddenfolk cutting down some blue sedge grass that was flourishing in the fields. I don´t know, maybe it was foggy or maybe he had had a little something to drink. I´ve also read the story of a boy that saw hiddenfolk fishing in the lake just below us. They had nets there and they were spotted a few times as they were gathering the nets.".

Eyvík, Iceland - 13/10/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341919

Telma Líf Gísladóttir, "I believe in elves and hiddenfolk a little bit, I kind of half believe and half don´t believe. But still...I don´t know...not really. I've never seen hiddenfolk and I don´t really believe in them. Maybe."

Husavik, Iceland - 21/06/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341920

Ditta Dax, "My final thesis at art school in the Netherlands was about the clothes that elves wear. According to legend they always wear clothes similar to those that humans wear only more opulent and glamorous versions, better than regular people could ever hope to own. The clothes were said to be finely woven, but not out of a material that common people would recognize. The clothes were frequently in a striking blue color or some other bright hue but very seldomly gray or brown."

Husavik, Iceland - 24/06/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341915

Ásgrímur Ingi Arngrímsson, "I was raised in Borgarfjörður Eystri were elf lore is a deep-seated tradition and many landmarks refer to elves. The tourist industry these days is to a large extent based on the possibilities in tourism that come with elf landmarks like Elf Castle, which is a big rock where the elf queen Borghildur is said to reside. Us kids used to play all around it and we were careful not to touch anything. One time I heard that the entrance to the was never in the same place, that it changed as if it were turning around the rock depending on where the elves wanted to enter.".

Borgarfjörður Eystri, Iceland - 28/04/2011

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341987

Very Hidden People

Borgarfjörður Eystri, Iceland - 25/06/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341918

Oddbjörg Sigfúsdóttir frá Krossi, "I was 4 or 5 years old and playing hide-and-seek with some other children just outside our farm, and I hid behind a rock. Then something strange happened, the other children´s voices fade away and I see an open window in the rock behind me. A beautiful woman is standing there and she´s wearing a dark green blouse. She tells me to come inside and be treated to a feast. But I said no, that I thought she could hand me the treat through the window. Then she reaches out to pull me in through the window. I screamed out loud, terrified. She disappeared immediately, everything went back to normal, and I could hear the kids again."

Kross, Iceland - 22/06/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341916

Gunnar Þór Nilsen, "I´m surrounded by people that are connected to elves. For example, my grandmother could see elves and she informed me about them, to the extent that you can explain such phenomenons. I wouldn´t mind meeting an elf, actually I have a wife that could almost be an elf. I´m totally open to the elf lore and I love meeting people that are willing to share their experience of elves and the happiness their beliefs have given them.".

Reykyavik, Iceland - 11/10/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341929

Eva Beekman

Akurei, Iceland - 10/02/2011

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341977

Sigtryggur Einarsson, "I've been working here at the reception desk of the elf museum Icelandic Wonders for two years, when I was twelve I started working as a ghost at the Ghost Center next door. I played a ghost that jumped at people out of the darkness. I've never seen a real elf but one time when I was driving in Þórsmörk I saw an old door on a rock that we passed. I could see it clearly for a while. Then we drove on and the door disappeared.".

Stokkseyri, Iceland - 04/10/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341986

Very Hidden People

Husavik, Iceland - 20/06/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341983

Þóra Hrund Hjálmarsdóttir, "One time I thought I was becoming an elf. My cousin said she thought my ears looked bigger. I ran to my grandfather and on the way I looked to the side and felt like my ears had become much bigger. I became very frightened and started to cry. But grandpa consoled me and said he didn´t think I was an elf.".

Reykyavik, Iceland - 05/10/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341952

Erla Stefánsdóttir."I have seen elves and hiddenfolk my whole life and mapped out regions where elves live all over the country. On the one hand there is creativity and on the other is seeing into another realm...It´s all related, and similar in nature. The belief in elves and hiddenfolk is not disappearing, quite the contrary, more and more people want to see and are trying to see.".

Reykyavik, Iceland - 09/10/2010

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341928

Hjordis Frimann

Akurei, Iceland - 12/02/2011

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Adam Panczuk / Picturetank PAA0341917

Andrea Jónsdóttir "Mom thought that I was clairvoyant when I was little because I was always playing all by myself, with no toys or playmates, as if I had an invisible playmate and invisible toys. I don´t remember this myself. I´ve never seen elves - at least as far as I can remember! – but I wouldn´t take a bulldozer to an elf mound. It´s not that I believe in elves but because I respect other people´s beliefs - and besides, there´s no need to take an unnecessary risk.".

Reykyavik, Iceland - 07/10/2010

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