published in Novi Sad, Serbia, written in Reykjavik, Iceland.







What influences you?
People, stories, music, love, hate. I am easily influenced! Crnjanski and Hyperborea. Bjork. Medula! The ocean. A country of glaciers, volcanoes and a dramatic emotional landscape. Northern ice melancholy. Colorful houses. Metal facades. Minimalism. Moderations. Absence of kitsch.
My personal myth.


Dear applicant!
I am pleased to inform you that you are hereby offered a guest-residency for the period of December 2006. You will also receive a letter by mail. Please confirm if you accept this offer as soon as possible. We apologize for how long it has taken to answer applications, due to unforeseen causes.
On behalf, Iduna Tordottir


I cannot believe it! I will see Iceland!
I will walk in the area of Pagan poetry and Aurora? I worry that something or someone could ruin my dream. I am nervous these days, frightened by new events. Iceland is my desirable Hiperborea, my New Jerusalem, and I am afraid of different things that could destroy it all.


I begin searching for Icelandic literature, trying to find anything related to the Icelandic language and literature. Reading, again, about Icelandic literature. With real surprise looked at my own comments written in my own handwriting which seem unfamiliar to me. I didn’t remember that I have ever read about Snori Sturlusson or anything written. Parts about Saga’s are particularly interested for me. I try to remember more facts. Everything is, however, quite general, encyclopedic poorly and informative. I go the public library. – Icelandic literature? Unfortunately, we do not have anything“ – answered the traditionally indifferent librarian. I don’t give up, searching the shelves, I find one titled Islandic literature. I take Icelandic Fairy-tales (which is marked with an „Islamic“ sticker!), „Journey to the Center of the Earth“ by Jules Vern, Nobel prize winner Laksnes and Gunar Gudmunson. At a local bookstore, I buy Sjon’s „Birds milk“ and Olafsson’s „A Long Journey into the Night“. Sjon’s writings, despite the poetic, lyrical discourse, are very difficult to read, as well as those of Laksnes and Gudmunson. {…} On the other hand, Olafson’s writings have an effect on me . In his novel, instead of postmodernism and erudition, I recognize emotion and stories that I miss so much in modern novels. Iceland, though, remains distant and unattainable, and my search continues.


Do travels, in fact, touch the substance of our lives, or are they just unconscious desires to escape from our own being and frustrating everyday lives?
Destinations that I chose, as well as the ways in which I experienced these trips, have changed in accordance with my age, the amount of money I had, and the way and quality of life. In the beginning, I liked to travel with my parents, the green-blue Adriatic Sea, learning to swim, the smell of pine branches and the Croatian coastline I remember my first trip abroad, shopping in Trieste, which, in my case, consisted of a few hours of frantically running through the shops purchasing Levi’s jeans … and colored round chewing gum. I remember those crazy high school excursion through parts of the former Yugoslavia (Sarajevo – Dubrovnik – Đerdap!) of which we remembered nothing except who was dating whom and who was the most drunk. During the wars in the former Yugoslavia, a time of inflation, a tax to leave the country and a salary of several German marks, I went on cheap tours of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and, of course, Montenegro. Several years later, my salary lept from a dozen German marks, to a few hundred euros, the EU introduced visas for us, but I do not have any more time to wait! Like all the people in my country, I find additional sources of income. I travel. Mainly with the G. Discover Western Europe, parts of Africa and Asia. People, languages, art, train stations… gradually become a part of me, making me different and more open, and our travels slowly outgrow ordinary physical transfer from one place to another, and become intimate acts of discovering that which is new and different. And despite the suspicious-introspective peep into the reasons behind my odyssey, I started to enjoy. G. and I travel whenever we find the opportunity. Avoiding travel agencies and boring routes, we jump over collectively touristic sightseeing attractions and try to experience real life. In Cairo, despite all the official warnings, we end up among old graves in the Forbidden City of the Dead; in Tunisia, together with the local population, we travel by train while the stench of tired, dreaming bodies spreads throughout the train; in Pompeii, we are greeted by temperature of forty degrees, in our own car, with overheated engine; we drive for three days, without sleeping, all the way to Denmark; to the ancient Efesus library, we walked for a couple of hours, in Moscow, we were searching for some hidden galleries, finally becoming aware that the information we had found on the Internet was, in fact, false. In Saint Petersburg, we sleep in a house close to the one in which F.M.Dostoyevsky lived, from our hotel window, we watch some new „humiliated people“ about whom a Russian artist used to write, and in the thick hotel walls we feel all the essential, almost archetypal pain of that charming city. After the Egyptian pyramids, British museums and one month Parisian’s dolce vita, it seems to me that there is nothing more that can impress me. But, then, I remember a scene from television: Bjork sings while looking intently over the ocean at an unreal landscape in the distance. I was thinking: Iceland! Distance and peace. Sumatra! And after then, everything, somehow, despite the expected and unexpected obstacles, goes well: Applying to stay in the country and glaciers and volcanos, positive response from our hosts, and finally, going to the Hyperboreans.


I forget the Kafka-like procedure which awaited us three months earlier at the Danish Embassy; we, insignificant citizens, (with baggage full of documents), and she, the VIP embassy staff member. – Passport? Two photographs? A photocopy of our passports? A letter of invitation? Airline reservations? Photocopies of our ID cards and personal health records? Employment history? Statement from our employers? Paid leave? M1-M2 forms? Confirmation of enrollment in the State Fund for Pension and Disability Insurance of Employees? Proof of property ownership? Permanent income? Other income? Credit card numbers? Bank statements? Confirmation of paid taxes? Financial resources necessary for sustenance in the European Union? International health insurance? – Screamed our first and essential obstacle, our border crossing. Our Europe! In a position to remind us that we are less powerful than she is. Miss Schengen herself! I no longer think about what we had to do to find a artist-in-residence program and apply for the extensive project. I refuse to remember that it was necessary to pass official selection, keep in touch with lazy Icelandic officials, find the cheapest airline tickets, arrange absence from work and worry because those who would remain behind. I disregard the hours spent reading lots of literature and hanging out on the Internet. And that we spent 75 days waiting for our Schengen visas because, despite the official Letter of invitation for participation in the Icelandic residence program, the response of Denmark embassy, which is responsible for the Consular Affairs of Iceland in Serbia, nothing happened. No, nothing! – And the slam the phone receiver was the daily occurrence, until, ten days before the journey, I have not heard the voice of her „majesty“, embassy staff member: – Visas are granted to you. You can pick up your passports tomorrow in the embassy (Of course, tomorrow in the embassy there was no electricity and everything was delayed until tomorrow, but one-month-tickets to Europe could not escape us)


Stepping onto the Icelandic pavement, we began our first, Icelandic walk. I find these surroundings (due to fatigue, nightfall or the air?) irrational and incomprehensible. It seems to me that I am living some other, unknown life. That, in fact, I am not myself. I feel I exist in another dimension. That I am assuming unknown identity. Another’s gait, another’s body, another’s thoughts. We walk throw a clean, idyllic, old part of town. There are no tall buildings on these streets, neither ruined facades nor kiosks. Everywhere around us are sweet, colorful, small houses. And a lot of cafes and little shops. …


We went to a nearby beach.
Fresh air fills my nostrils, and directly enters flows my lungs, freezing them. We find an unrealistic, irrational landscape. Hyperbolic mixture of dreams, desires and eternity. Frozen yellow-green moss, black volcanic stones all around, red ground, lonely house in the distance and powerfully, icy ocean. We found peace and tranquility. Paradise of dreamers and visionaries. Openness toward the melancholic and the sound of the northern wind. The peaceful, gently peaks of Esja. I feel Hyperbore! And Crnjanski. The lyric utopia. Ontology consolation. Finally, I understand: If we get sad over a pale figure, whom we have lost on some evening, we know that, somewhere, a rivulet, instead of it, all in red, is flowing. I took an MP3 player and put my headphones on. I listen to Bjork. Joga and Pagan Poetry.


With ashes on my head, repentant and in the climax of silent joy of return, I am suddenly up in the fresh air, some thousand meters above the land, I left my colorful cosmopolitan feathers and landed at the Belgrade airport, as if I came home. Danilo Kis We landed for the third time today. I feel enormous pressure in my head. And a sharp pain above my eyebrow. I’m not sure, maybe, I am having a stroke? Literary, painful meeting with Serbia begins in the sky over the “holy land”! The physical pain erases the thought of confrontation. I can not stand it, it seams my head will split into pieces. – How does a heart attack feel? Does it hurt? – I asked G. – What’s the matter with you? – Asked G., worried. – I do not know, I get the impression that someone is using a knife to cut my eyebrow, but it cannot be separated from my face!


73.1 percent of people from Novi Sad never go to the theatre, 84.1 percent of respondents have never entered the library, as well as the exhibition. Less than 5 percent of population has visited panels and book promotions. (Quote from a marketing agency that deals with public opinion polls) Three months after our icelandic trip, In Novi Sad’s Cultural Center, I found a poster: „Norse selection – a series of Scandinavian movies“. Staring enthusiastically at the program. I simply cannot believe it! Among others films, one is Icelandic! “Screaming masterpiece”! An Icelandic musical documentary with Bjork and Siguros! The whole week I was pleased and a little bit nervous. In a mood of celebration, in a T-shirt with a coat of arms of Iceland, I arrived that Saturday evening in front of a deserted cinema in the city center. Except for an elderly man, who approached the counter interested in the same movie, there none was no one in the Cultural Centre. And although this is, common scene in Novi Sad’s cinemas, I looked around, in expecting someone to appear. – Where are all the people who visited the Cultural Centre during the 80 s? – I asked myself, over and over. After ten minutes of waiting, the young man employed in the Cultural program, said something to the older man and then approached me. – The film has been canceled. There are problems with the distribution. We have sold only two tickets – he told me. – But you can see The Letters from Iwo Jima. Clint Eastwood is excellent.

translated by David Ratcliff

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