I did not travel to Iceland for the football. I dreamed of the landscapes; the steam unfurling from geothermal pools, fields of moss-covered lava, endless expanses of black sand, glaciers radiant in their blue. I did not travel to Iceland for the football (or soccer, for Americans), but as I journeyed around the country, it was every Icelander’s favorite subject; the small nation of 330,000 made it to the Euro Cup.
The day of the quarter-final, all of Reykjavik was buzzing with excitement. People of all ages were decked out in patriotic gear, from painted faces to Viking helmets. Thousands gathered on grassy hills, climbing on statues and trees, clamoring to see the giant screens. I was fascinated by the rituals, the energy, and the way people, especially children, had such a connection to the game and the players. Win or lose, Icelanders were in the streets, celebrating, cheering, and sharing this historic moment together.
Emily Grunfeld is a Los Angeles-based photographer and mixed media artist. Her work ranges from documentary to portraiture, from fashion to fine art. In 2014, she received her B.F.A. in Photography and Imaging from Art Center College of Design.
Also, make sure to check out Emily’s last essay Off the Grid published last year