"The Priest's Ravine"
is a project that focuses on the isolated community of Brekka in Iceland. The project captures the daily lives of the few remaining inhabitants, who are facing an uncertain future as younger generations leave for larger cities. The project's title is inspired by an Icelandic folk tale, which serves as a metaphor for the struggle and survival of the people of Brekka.
It has been published as a book by Another Place Press in 2018
Brekka, a remote Icelandic village, is a place seemingly frozen in time, where only a handful of people still live. In the past, the village was a bustling center for the fish industry during the "Golden Age of Herring," but now only empty homes remain as a reminder of better times. The physical and unpredictable climate of this isolated location is a challenging prospect for young Icelanders, causing many of them to leave the family farms and move to larger cities. As a result, the village is increasingly cut off from the outside world, with unpaved roads blocked by snow in winter and access only possible by boat.
Photographer Marzena Skubatz, however, is drawn to Brekka's tranquility and has returned multiple times to document the daily routines of its isolated community. She portrays a way of life that defies harsh circumstances and embraces the peace and solitude of the valley. The families she has met have lived in Brekka for generations and consider it their home, belonging nowhere else.
In her book, "The Priest's Ravine," Skubatz references an Icelandic folk tale about a giant troll woman who seduced the village's priests to leave their church so she could eat them. One priest drove the troll woman crazy by making noises of hell and thus freed the valley from her. While there are no mystical figures driving the people of Solbrekka away, the seclusion and hardships of daily life may lead them to leave their homes sooner or later.
Despite the village's remote location and isolation from the rest of the island, its people continue to maintain their way of life, farming and fishing to sustain their community. Skubatz's work captures the essence of a place that is perhaps facing its last generation, yet still retains its special and unique character.