People Not Seen is the project I am currently working on. A documentary about Elves, memes and the power of storytelling, it describes how I set out to find the mysterious Icelandic “Hidden People” – and how, after numerous setbacks and hardships, I eventually succeeded.
The story retraces a time when I used to live in Iceland for a year, becoming progressively obsessed with the concept of Huldufólk (“Hidden People”) – a humanoid yet invisible second society inhabiting rocks, cliffs and certain areas of the vast, breathtaking Nordic landscape.
Traversing the country, I conducted over 60 interviews with eye witnesses whose lives have been touched, changed and sometimes even saved by the Huldufólk. The invisible civilisation is frequently described as a withdrawn, peaceful yet vengeful, ecologically minded yet technologically advanced society: While often translated as “Elves”, Hidden People nowadays fly UFOs, jump dimensions and deploy highly sophisticated stealth technology.
Lest readers prematurely misconstrue these reports as mere fantasy or science fiction figments, I went to great lengths to preserve their accuracy – audiotaping each and every interview, asking for specific details of clothing, weather and landscape, taking pictures of the respective sites and carefully processing all the information into elaborate, realistic pen-and-ink drawings.
It is important for me to not exoticize Iceland as this somewhat quirky, socio-historical backwater country. People Not Seen will extend its focus to countries of the Global North like Germany or the United States, which are by no means less permeated by cultural memes and other uncanny idea creatures. The popcultural, fairy-taley subject of Elves rather serves as a kind of cultural contrast agent, demonstrating how much every societal body is informed – and can be re-negotiated – through stories, agreements and culturally shaped truths.