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Marino Thorlacius: Straumnes

22 January, 20221 May, 2022

Straumnesfjall mountain rises between Aðalvík to the south and Rekavík to the north, now within Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords. During the cold war the US army erected a radar station on the mountain, which it operated for only three years, between 1958 and 1961. In 1991 the mountain and its surroundings were cleared of the ruins in a cooperation between the US army and Icelandic authorities. Nonetheless, clear traces of this operation are still visible on the mountain.

The photographer Marino Thorlacius photographed the area in 2015 and again in 2019 and shares his vision of what remains of the radar station at this remote place. The sublime natural beauty and the ever-changing weather offer a backdrop to the photographs depicting relics of bygone times. When the lingering fog lifts and light clears the view over the level mountain top, concrete blocks lying around catch the eye. Debris of timber and iron that lies half buried at the edge of the mountain bears witness to a story of the station being bulldozed over the edge. Do these scattered remains denote a pollution disaster, or are they cultural heritage?

Building and operating a radar station in this secluded location was indeed a daunting effort and the army soon gave up. The surging ocean, 400 meters below the mountain edge, provides an audio track of the limitations set by nature to the place and the people who dwelled there.
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The human is vulnerable facing the forces of nature at Straumnesfjall mountain.

Marino Thorlacius first exhibited his photographs in 2004 and has since then worked as a professional photographer that focuses equally on art projects and commercial photography.
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He often collaborates closely with artists and designers in shaping the visual world of the projects. Furthermore, his photographs have been exhibited and published in magazines both in Iceland and abroad. Marino grew up in Örlygshöfn in Patreksfjörður in the southern Westfjords and divides his life and work between there and Reykjavík.