Feature / Is(not) / Very hidden people by Adam Panczuk

Modern Icelanders. Most of them don’t believe in God, the majority can’t imagine joining the EU, many deny the world’s economic rules, but there is something beyond nature that they do believe in and respect. Hiddenfolk, the hidden people – elves. In 2006 and 2007, the social science department of the University of Iceland conducted surveys on Icelanders’ beliefs in occult phenomena. The results showed that 62% of those asked believed that it was possible, likely or certain that elves and hiddenfolk existed. In times governed by economic calculations, Icelanders spend extra millions of ISK building national roads, not according to the shortest path, but around elves’ rocks or hills. There were enough cases of broken tools, machines, arms and legs to warn against contradicting the wishes of the elves. After the economic crisis, Hiddenfolk were again, as in ancient times, the symbol of a distressed nation’s longing for a better life and a magical solution to its problems. It is the nation´s literary creation in some sense, but also its distorted mirror image.
Text © Sindri Freysson