Q&A with KT Browne, Editor-in-chief of ICEVIEW Magazine
Iceview Magazine is a nonprofit, bilingual literary and art (print!) publication based in Iceland. We publish biannual collections of creative writing, critical inquiry, and visual art concerning travel, tourism, geographies, and movement.
When was ICEVIEW founded and what gave you the initial inspiration for this journal?
The town of Skagaströnd, Iceland is home to less than 500 inhabitants and an artist residency that has little engagement with the surrounding community. I quickly realized that there was a significant communication gap between the locals and the artists-in-residence in town after moving here in 2015, and wanted to both understand this gap and come up with a possible solution to it; the gap seemed to extend beyond language barriers and felt more like a social wall between those who were from Skagaströnd, and those who were not. This created a sense of exclusion, of outsiderness that became more pronounced to me as time passed. ICEVIEW was inspired by these ideas and founded the following year, in 2016, as an attempt to bridge the gap between the locals and visitors of Skagaströnd, and more broadly between the permanent and temporary inhabitants of any place by investigating questions that touch on the themes of travel, loneliness, isolation, remoteness, and community. It is for this reason that one of the most important things about ICEVIEW is that all of the content is translated from English into Icelandic, and vice versa.
What do you hope that readers take away from your publication? What is the most important thing you want them to be aware of?
I’m a writer, so I’m inclined to say that an appreciation for high quality creative writing is one of the biggest things I’d like readers to take away from ICEVIEW. More generally, I also want readers to feel inclined to rethink their own conceptions of place, travel, and community. Given that we market ourselves as a travel-focused publication, I’d like for ICEVIEW to challenge commonly held notions of travel and tourism, especially given our current political climate. I think it’s easy to let ourselves be swept away by feelings of wanderlust, and though this isn’t inherently a bad thing, I’m interested in allowing our content to interrogate the implications of traveling for pleasure or inspiration, as well as carve out new ways of understanding the ways in which we move through the world, and why.
Being an independent publisher, we are always interested in how other magazines and journals produce each issue. Tell us about how you find artwork and writing for each edition.
With each issue, we put out a call for submissions and receive a lot of great artwork and writing that way. I also spend a good bit of time reading literary journals and whenever I come across a piece that sticks with me, I reach out to the writer and encourage them to submit. On the visual art side, the process is quite similar—browsing indie mags and bookmarking anything that fits within our theme. Most importantly, I look for work that engages with the questions and issues surrounding travel, community, and place. With the help of a talented team of editors, I curate the content for each issue with this in mind.
What are your future plans for ICEVIEW? What do you hope to accomplish?
I’m first and foremost interested in continuing to expand the scope of our content; I want to publish writing and artwork from multiple countries, from multiple continents, and it’s my goal to provide a platform for anyone who feels outside of society or isolated in any way. That being said, our focus is constantly evolving; our first issue was mostly centered around writing and artwork that was inspired by Iceland. Our second was less narrow and included work that more broadly engaged with ideas surrounding travel and place. Our third issue will extend the notion of “place” to interiors such as hospitals, apartments, hotels, etc. It’s been fun to witness these shifts, and I’d very much like to continue toying with the philosophical ideas raised by our content as a way to curate subsequent issues.
Practically speaking, it would also be wonderful to translate into other languages beyond Icelandic. This would allow us to reach a lot of new countries and talents, as well as feature a wider range of content.
You mentioned that there have been more artists and creatives visiting Iceland in the past few years. What has the general response been and why do you feel people are so drawn to traveling to this country?
I am convinced that many artists crave what I like to call “creative solitude”, and of course challenge. It is easy to say that the stark, dramatic topography of Iceland—with its endless contrasts and contradictions—allures artists in a visual sense, but I do think there’s something more to the draw than that. Iceland is a harsh, difficult environment physically and, in many ways, socially; small rural villages are often inhabited by only a few families, and assimilating into those communities can be deeply difficult. It is very easy to feel like an outsider in Iceland for these reasons, whether you’re residing here permanently or temporarily. Artists are often drawn to these sorts of challenges because they raise questions that may inspire new techniques of production or avenues of inquiry, or simply because they ignite a different way of seeing things. I’m generalizing here, of course, but I’m also one to believe that artists are in large part experience-hunters and Iceland has done a pretty fantastic job of marketing itself as a destination rich in experience.
What would you tell someone who is thinking of traveling to Iceland for inspiration? Share your best tips for visiting.
Don’t only come to Iceland with the goal of being inspired! By doing that, you limit the possibilities of what the country can do for you, or what it can teach you. Like any place we may visit for the first time, the best mentality to have before traveling is that of an open mind—we never know how we may react with a place or its people, and it’s best to take things as they come rather than decide beforehand what you want a place to do for you. My suggestion, if you’re planning a trip to Iceland, is to research Icelandic literature (Iceland is a fantastically bookish country) and attempt to form a mental picture of the country through the eyes of a citizen rather than a visitor. Shy away from the glossy Instagram accounts depicting only idyllic versions of the country, and engage with its history, politics, emerging artists and writers. Know where you’re going, don’t just see where you’re going.
How can we support your publication and learn more?
Our website (theiceview.com) has an in-depth write-up of our concept, which would be the best place for a curious Iceviewer to start learning about our publication. As a non-profit endeavor, we rely on a local cultural grant to function. This means that our sales are crucial to our existence! We’re now stocked in seven countries and grateful for every purchase. If you can’t make it to one of our stockists, we also have an online store. But perhaps most importantly, we love receiving emails from people who have discovered ICEVIEW and want to get in touch. Reach out! It’s wonderful to connect with people around the world—this helps us appreciate the importance of a digital co