Good. Strange. Interesting. Weird. Bold. Unique. Stupid. I was told to read this book by one of my professors and while I am glad I did, I found the whole book unsettling.
|Jeffrey Vallance, 1994, Fish Tales|
Jeffrey Vallance travels the globe. As far as I can tell he constructs his own concept of what it is he'll do, study, learn, or who he'll meet up with while on his travels. Plans change. Concepts change. He draws while he is traveling. He conducts research on the places he is going to or the stuff of the area. Sometimes book research but often-times just shopping and talking to others is construed as research as far as I can tell.
I wouldn't mind learning how he actually makes a living traveling as he does as an Artist around the globe. Grants? Book sales? Handouts? Jeffrey Vallance has given an artists talk at the Hammer Museum.
The two stories I could relate to the most in this little book were: Iceland, Gateway to Hell, and Fish Tales: My Meeting With Madam President.
I have been to Iceland. Not in the same way Mr Vallance visited. In 2010 I went fishing for 11 days, 13 hours a day and I loved it. I caught 5 Atlantic Salmon. I brought two home to eat with my family. So, Jeffrey Vallance eat that! You may have liked or even loved the women in Iceland but I, as a woman, ate the fish - gross - that's not how I talk but Mr. Vallance makes me want to talk that way to him.
The Hofsa river is beyond spectacular.
Some of the details that Jeffrey Vallance describes about Iceland, he said there are no trees and no horses, are not exactly true - at least not the way I saw or learned about Iceland.
For one, there are trees and they do grow. Not very many of them mind you, the Vikings cut them all down years ago. However, there is a place on the Hofsa River where a land owner farmer has cultivated a tree farm. They have been growing for years. While it is not a forest, there are trees. Beautiful trees.
Second, the Icelanders do have horses they are magnificent creatures and they are NOT imported as Mr Vallance suggests. Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return. The fear is that the horses would contract diseases and die off. As a side note there a many sheep and goats too.
While the Icelandic landscape appears barren I can honestly say that after hiking several miles a day to fish on the Hofsa I no longer saw the island as barren. On the contrary, I found the Icelandic landscape to be exquisite and ever so memorable in all its 24 hour daylight splendor (I was there in the summer).
Back to Jeffrey Vallance - you have unsettled me. What is an Artist? What are we to do? Make work to look at or make people see the world differently? For me, Jeffrey Vallance is like a splinter under your fingernail that you can't get out. That might be exactly what he's after.
His web site did not work for me but you can register to view his work here.
In Part 2 of this book review I will unpack: Desk Job. Stay tuned.