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About Focus Westfjords

Photo: Baldur Pan
Photo: Baldur Pan
The Focus Westfjords Project is an attempt of two friends and photographers, Agúst Atlason (from Ísafjörður in the Westfjords of Iceland) and Matt Willen (from Pennsylvania in the United States) to show and document the nature of life in the Westfjords, as it is now, and some of the distinctive characteristics of what it is to live in the region. The project came about a year ago, when Matt was visiting the Westfjords with the idea of doing a photo-documentary on changes in the fishing villages in Iceland that have occurred as a result of the qouta system of fisheries management. During that trip, he met Agúst riding his bicycle on the dock in Ísafjörður. They began to talk about photography, had dinner together, and began talking about working together on a project.

As the year progressed, they thought that it would be important (especially in light of the fact that the Westfjords is such a little known region of Iceland and in light of the way Iceland and Icelanders have been portrayed in the global media as a resultof the country´s recent economic crisis) to do a project that simply aimed to present and make a record of life in Westfjords as it is perceived by an insider and an outsider. Matt visited Ísafjörður for a week in March 2009 so that he and Agúst could sort out the project and is spending the month of May 2009 in Iceland working with Agúst. He plans to return for a month or so in September, January 2010, and again in the spring of 2010 so that the two might continue to collaborate on the endeavor. In the end, the two are looking to create an exhibition of photographs that will display in Iceland as well as in the United States. Ideally, they are aiming to do a book that grows out of this website and the exhibition.

The project has to date been supported by generous assistance from in Ísafjörður, which has provided hosting for the project website and blog; Elizabethtown College in the United States, which has provided the endeavor with a grant to make possible work on the initial phase of the project; Menningarráð Vestfjarða generously supported us for 750.000 ISK and we are grateful for that, such a support is amazing to get; and by the University Center of the Westfjords, which has provided them with invaluable contacts, access to facilities, and bountiful good will. To these institutions, to the people of the Westfjords, and to our families, we are indebited for this opportunity.