American folklore is steeped in patriarchy. Colonization and the expansion westward, propelled by the “manifest destiny” concept of profound moral rightness under a male-gendered christian god, spread an oral tradition that made heroes out of it’s everymen — “pioneers” like Paul Bunyon, Davy Crockett and Johnny Appleseed were elevated to mythical status for their roles in the often violent reshaping of the face of North America.
Strong, magical, matriarchal lineage prevails in the lore of many cultures, including the American cultures that pre-dated colonization – but the patriarchal nature of the American Colonizer Mythos has not allowed female driven narratives to pierce the cultural zeitgeist. In this way, modern American women are faced with a question uncomfortably, and paradoxically, similar to one posed within the American Colonizer Mythology– when we are not sufficiently represented within our own culture, where must we travel to find what we need?
Photographer Alana Celii traveled to Iceland to document the lonely and uninhabited terrain of the Icelandic saga of Skagaströnd, and the prophetess Þórdís. Skagaströnd, which sits at the base of Mt. Spákonufell, was founded by the prophetess in the 10th century. Þórdís regarded the mountain as her own, and chose it as the place she would live out her life. Each day, she hikes the mountain to brush her hair with a golden comb and observe the lands below. Legend tells that her fortune is hidden as a rock on the top of the mountain. A treasure that will only be revealed to a woman of independent thought and spirit. To this day – the treasure has not been found.
In this photo series, Alana Celii and Jess Mederos intertwine the isolated landscapes of Iceland with fashion imagery evocative of the legend of Prophetess Mountain.