In 2011, when photographer Maroesjka Lavigne was 21, she traveled to Iceland on an impulse, and spent four months driving by herself around the country. “I felt overwhelmed every second I drove through this great landscape. This is where I realized the power of nature,” she wrote in an email.
The vision of Iceland that resulted—a series titled Ísland—is a landscape where humans live in frontal confrontation with the elements, evidence of their existence appearing as a pop of color against a backdrop of pure, glaring white. A bright red bus is almost camouflaged in the snowy landscape; a lone figure staring into a precipice is a dark silhouette.
Lavigne’s images have a dreamlike David Lynch-like quality to them—almost a made-up place. “When I started photography in high school and all my favorite photographers were documentary photographers," she writes, "I didn’t know anything else existed. But later on I discovered all the different roads you could take with photography. That’s when I realised I loved photography, because you can create your own world with it.”
Some of these scenes are familiar—bathers taking a dip in the famed Blue Lagoon. Others glimpse an otherworldly place: a buttercup yellow abode is nestled in a vast expanse of white; an eccentric young man stares imperiously into the middle distance, oligarch of a claustrophobic domain. One of the most surprising images is that of shrimp in the kitchen sink, shot from above. The translucent creatures float toward the drain, drifting like creatures from a surrealist painting—another exploration of the human-nature tension, in a more domestic context.
Maïa Booker is the photo editor at The New Republic. Follow Maïa @maiabooker.