I am not waiting for anything specific 

Kristin Amalía Atladóttir is a  scholar and a film producer at Hólshjáleiga in Hjaltastaðaþinghá, Fljótsdalshérað. Recently she took over as director of the cultural centre in Fljótsdalshérað. She has no roots in Austurland but that doesn‘t worry her. “I do not fear the lack of a common bond – it can be very liberating if one chooses to look at it that way,” she says. 

“I feel good here,” says Kristin, she ponders a little, and then continues: “there is possibly one drawback, Mother Nature plays such a big part in my daily life here. Everyday my behaviour is dictated by her. Weather-wise, no hour is ever the same. This has added a new dimension to my life: seeing the amazing interplay of light and cloud – not to mention the vastness of this area itself – I‘m simply hooked on it. I receive my energy, stimulation and satisfaction from observing the environment, and thus nature has become the focal point in my life. It is almost like I pursue and assimilate the river, the birds, the vegetation, and this is very meaningful to me. In fact, it means more to me than most of what happens in the outside world.”

In 2015, Kristin wanted to take a summer break in the east of the country. She had no roots in Austurland, but through friends she stumbled on Hjaltastaðarþinghá. “I saw an advertisement for a housekeeper, and it happened to be in Borgarfjörður, which I knew just a little bit about,” she says. “I had been to Borgarfjörður before, and had felt really good there. I applied, landed the job, and spent the whole summer there.

Although it was cold and wet, it was quite obvious that the autumn would be glorious. I had always thought that I would end up as a strange woman living in the wilds of nowhere. I realized that autumn that I was possibly at a crossroads, and stayed in the house in Hjaltastaðaþinghá over the winter. I managed to stay there the whole season thanks to a lamp-post outside the house. I would not have made it through without it. I would have wasted away and left. However,  now I have a dog, and these days, I even find the glow from the lamp-post unnecessarily bright and, in fact, don‘t mind that it is broken right now.“

And Kristín is still here: “I was lucky enough to get a job at the Cultural Centre in Fljótsdalshérað. It has allowed me to become more rooted here in the community, as much as I need to feel rooted. I’m at a point in life now where I don‘t feel a need to be more involved in a community. However, I am sometimes invited to participate in this or that, and I appreciate it and of course I enjoy it, and am grateful to be included.

At the same time, I am socially aware, and am interested in strengthening the community. My basic goal in this new position and long-term project, is to work with children and young people and to present to them the world of creative industries. In the future, creative abilities will be a key component to their future and I want to contribute so that young people here have the same opportunity to become active in a world of automation and artificial intelligence, and be on par with their peers in the capital. If we don‘t take action now, we run the risk that in the future these young people might be considered a form of second-class citizen. ”

Kristin also considers Austurland to be a long-term project. “Certainly it can feel a bit  disjointed to live in a place without having had any previous connection to the community. But I have lived abroad and find this feeling to be similar, it can be very liberating if one chooses to look at it that way,” she says. “And somehow, communities always seem to accept you, if you are willing to contribute. So, I do not have any plans to move and I do not either intend to be a permanent fixture. I’m fine here right now, and do not need to prove anything to myself. I just live on my farm, and am not waiting for anything specific.”

Text by Jón Knútur Ásmundsson.

Photos by Rhombie Sandoval. 

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