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For a world drowning in inequality. A ‘photo storybook’ of tales and ideas inspired by Iceland, a land of gender equality. Well, almost.
For a world drowning in inequality. A ‘photo storybook’ of tales and ideas inspired by Iceland, a land of gender equality. Well, almost.
313 backers pledged £17,820 to help bring this project to life.

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"An Equal Difference" Intellect & Gender Equality in Iceland

£17,820

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María Kjartansdóttir, Photographer and Artist in Elliðaárdalur
María Kjartansdóttir, Photographer and Artist in Elliðaárdalur

What if I told you a remote island in the North Atlantic achieved the top position in the world for gender equality for the past seven years? And what if I told you that same society is also the only European country that managed to recover properly from the 2008 global financial crisis?

You might wonder what it is about this place that inspires such functional social dynamics. In 2013, I decided to travel to Iceland and find out.

‘An Equal Difference’ is a book of portraits, stories, and wisdom. It is the result of two-and-a-half years of researching, speaking with, and photographing over 70 inspiring people living in Icelandic society today. It is my attempt to understand a culture that would call for measures like the jailing of bankers responsible for the crash, creating an energy policy based on independent, renewable sources, maintaining a socialised child care system, and making prostitution illegal by criminalising the buyers instead of sex workers. What really caught my attention was Iceland’s call to ‘feminise banking’. They examined the behavioural aspects of a problem, not the gender of it and in doing so, inferred that we are all a mixture of masculine and feminine behaviours and dynamics. This model not only feels true, it provides the framework for a greater understanding of ourselves and each other.

My process began with wondering what women’s minds would be like in comparison to those in the societies in which I had previously lived (the USA and UK) - societies that provide relatively little support for women’s biological responsibilities and tend to raise girls who struggle with self esteem issues. I wanted to know what makes gender equality work on a practical level. How does it influence the way one thinks and operates in society? How does it shape society itself?

Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir Founder of Hjalli Schools, Author
Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir Founder of Hjalli Schools, Author

The first portraits I took were exclusively of women. The sessions carried no agenda but allowed us to gravitate naturally towards a discussion based on our interests. I met with an explorer who had been the first Icelander to ski unaccompanied from from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. She wisely pointed out that “if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t – you’ll find an excuse.” I met with business women in groundbreaking companies, former ministers and politicians who built national buildings in the face of the crash, women who were not victims but leaders speaking out against violence, authors who spoke eloquently from the heart, members of the Lutheran church, designers and makers of products and jewellery, and trail blazing musicians. My fascination snowballed and I began recording the audio of the shoots as this project’s concept began to crystallise. Olympus presented an early selection of these images at the launch of their new flagship camera in London in September 2013. The Icelandic Embassy in London exhibited an extended set of images from January 2015 until January 2016 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the women’s vote in Iceland. One of the images was selected for the 2014 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize and hung in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Over the course of making this project, I frequently travelled between London, Reykjavik, and New York City. This developed my perspective on the societal differences between these three cultures and provided opportunities to discuss and reflect on what I was experiencing in Iceland. After countless conversations it became clear that I needed to consolidate what began as a portrait project into something I could more easily and effectively share. Don't get me wrong - Iceland is still far from perfect. But from what I’ve witnessed, I see a relationship between gender equality and intelligent thought that feels absent in most Western civilizations. Something is definitely going on in Iceland which, if harnessed, could be exported along with its tasty fish and affordable energy.

It wasn’t long before this project challenged me to confront my own unconscious gender biases. It was not a comfortable experience. I’d rate it on par with a trip to the dentist. You might be in for a filling or a root canal. As with any pain, remembering to breathe through it helps. I had considered including men as this project formed and discussed it with many people, but it a challenge to see how I would accomplish this with balance. After about a year I found I had come to a natural decision about inclusion which didn’t patronise men or overshadow the discrimination women face.

Feminism is an indispensable part of gender equality, but it is also a much misunderstood word. The grievance many have with it is a question of language, history, and fear. I began researching and photographing men last year and the sessions which remain to be completed will focus on them. My goal with this work is to inspire individuals. The development of the self is essential to the healthy development of any society. Then collectively, we can action our societies to close their gender gap through healthy and effective measures. After studying the ways Iceland is managing to do this, I’m certain that the movement towards equality must include men or it will not be equality.

Orri Finn, Jewelry Maker and Designer, former Diamond Runner
Orri Finn, Jewelry Maker and Designer, former Diamond Runner

Contained in the pages between the portraits are references to a multitude of my discoveries there, ranging from music, pedagogy and research to landscapes, architecture, sweater patterns and ultimately - ideas. Through aspects of psychological and philosophical analysis, paired with factual context and a measure of humour, the book brings forward an inspiring snapshot of the experiences and philosophies of Icelandic people living in a society that is striving for gender equality.

More than seventy percent of the portrait sessions are complete. I am currently in Iceland working with an editor and a graphic designer to finish writing and laying out the images and words that will eventually be printed and bound as a limited edition book. We will also produce an eBook to take advantage of the ability to hyperlink resources and be electronically portable. This project has been a privilege to work on, and it will be a pleasure to read in spite of its serious context.

We should all be feminists, equalists, humanists; call it whatever you need its name to be. The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities in social and political arenas, education, employment, health, and all other areas of life is essential to our future. Gender equality doesn’t have to be like going to the dentist. It is liberating, holds untold promise, and without someone else’s hands in your mouth, it’s much easier to breathe.

With your generous support this book will be in your hands by August 2016.

The Plan 

The final phase of the project is currently underway. This is a rough timetable of what has happened and what remains to be completed.

Project Timeline
Project Timeline

The Book and Funds 

The funds raised on Kickstarter will go towards the completion, design, editing, and printing of the book which present significant costs. I am working with a local graphic designer on the layout, an editor, and sub editors in NYC and Iceland. Aside from a bursary from Olympus of £2500 in 2013, I have self-funded the production of this work. With your generous support the book will be printed and bound in Europe in full colour spanning approximately 250 pages, over 100 photographs and close to 40,000 words ensuring the production of a beautiful book to high standard.

Of the people I’ve photographed and interviewed I anticipate that almost all the portraits will be in the book, and between 20 and 40 focused stories will accompany their respective portraits. I decided to launch this book on Kickstarter for the benefit of connecting to a powerful network, building a community, as well as raising some of the funds to enable to me to complete the last stage of photography and writing.

Ragna Kjartansdóttir aka Cell7, Iceland’s First Female Rapper
Ragna Kjartansdóttir aka Cell7, Iceland’s First Female Rapper

The Rewards

In addition to the limited edition printed book, the designer and I will use our time together to lay out an eBook which will benefit from hyperlinks to research, statistics, media, and more. I’ll be using two carefully sourced companies chosen from personal experience for their professionalism and quality for the printing of postcards and limited edition prints. You can visit www.gabriellemotola.com/kickstarterprints to view which prints are available and also specify which prints you want when you pledge for one.

Other rewards range from e-postcard updates to experience based rewards such as meetups, education, and adventures. We made sure to keep it diverse and hope you find a reward that resonates with you.

Please spread the word and share this project with someone if you pledge for a reward or even if you do not. You can help to create an impact.

With your support my team and I sincerely look forward to making this book a reality. Thank you.

Risks and challenges

I selected the time period to achieve this in based on what I know to be my working capacity to be. I’ve added 20% on top for contingency. The winter is a fantastic time to write. There is not much daylight and that which is available is fabulous for photography. With your support I will be able to focus 80% of my time on this project and ensure its completion. Why 80%? The other 20% will go towards working to raise the final amount of money needed unless this campaign exceeds £15,000. If it does then things will be done even more efficiently.

If we reach our funding goal of £15,000, it is just a matter of finishing the words in the book and between ten and fifteen more shoots which I will complete over the coming months. For the beginning of the project I worked incredibly fast producing twenty six portraits in one week. I don’t have to work at that pace now but I can if I need to. I’ll complete the layout with the designer, send the artwork to the printer, and finally distribute the books.

I have sourced more than one bid for the cost of printing, the cost of editing and layout, and the funding goal will meet or exceed this. Any funding beyond our goal will first be put towards printing more books, if there is enough demand, and then increasing the quality of them. We have based our Kickstarter budget on a handsome but initially modest printing specification.

Regarding the eBook - accurate formatting for all devices is being taken into consideration and measures and research are being taken to ensure that the eBook is technically glitch free, easy to follow and read. The formatting will be laid out carefully ahead of time and proofed by my editors.

Regarding the printed copies - delays could always arise due to shipping or print production. To avoid this we will have agreed all shipping and printing schedules ahead of time and use second class royal mail post to ensure distribution is handled efficiently. We've taken all costs into consideration to reduce the chance of surprises.

Regarding the pledges which require me to be in places at certain times: priority will be given to organise dates, book flights and accommodation as soon as the campaign closes and we are funded. The pledge amount takes into account mosts costs within Europe and the USA. Any unforeseen costs incurred outside of the pledge will be adjusted where possible by way of dates or alternative accommodation to decrease cost and meet the budget. If this is impossible for any reason it will be the responsibility of the person pledging to cover the cost but it will also be at their discretion.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About US$ 1.26

    THANK YOU:
    Welcome to the conversation and community surrounding this project. Thank you for your support.

    •I'll send you a thank you email with a photo from the project which you have permission to use on your social media channels or your blog.

    •You'll be kept informed of important updates, talks, or events surrounding this project.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £6 or more About $8

    THE PRINTED POSTCARD:

    •You get a printed postcard from Iceland with one of the photographs from the project and a message regarding the book's progress.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £15 or more About US$ 19

    ePOSTCARD UPDATES:

    •You get one ePostcard per month for six months (the approximate duration of the writing-to-printing process) featuring a photograph from the project and a message regarding the book's progress.

    ePostcards begin shipping in March and continue until August 2016.

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    Limited 8 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 25

    THE eBOOK:

    •You get an eBook including media and hyperlinks taking you directly to new discoveries at the click of a mouse (or a tap of the finger). The eBook will be between 200-300 pages and tell the story of this inspirational journey through words and photographs.

    • To thank you for supporting the project at this stage, everyone who pledges for an eBook on Kickstarter will be listed as a supporter in the eBook.

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    72 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £55 or more About $69

    THE PRINTED BOOK:

    •You get a pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book. Between 200-300 pages and at hand-holdable180x240mm, it illustrates this inspirational journey through photographs and stories.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 104 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £65 or more About $82

    THE PRINTED BOOK & eBOOK:

    •You get a pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book. Between 200-300 pages and at hand-holdable 180x240mm, it illustrates this inspirational journey through photographs and stories.

    •PLUS the eBook including media and hyperlinks taking you directly to new discoveries at the click of a mouse (or a tap of the finger).

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 29 backers
    £
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  7. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £85 or more About $107

    THE DELUXE PACKAGE:
    You get everything up till now which includes:

    •A THANK YOU email with photo for use on your social media or blog

    •THE PRINTED POSTCARD

    •ePOSTCARD UPDATES

    •THE eBOOK including media and hyperlinks taking you directly to new discoveries at the click of a mouse (or a tap of the finger).

    •THE PRINTED BOOK - a pre-ordered signed limited edition copy. Between 200-300 pages and at hand-holdable 180x240mm, it illustrates this inspirational journey through photographs and stories.

    Postcards begin shipping in March. ePostcards start shipping in March and continue until August 2016

    Printed books and eBooks ship in August 2016.

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    Reward no longer available 20 backers
    £
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  8. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £150 or more About $189

    REYKJAVIK COFFEESHOP PREVIEW:
    •You get the pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book. PLUS the eBook.
    •PLUS you and a guest are invited to come enjoy coffee and cake at my favourite café in Reykjavík for a chat and a sneak preview of the book's progress before it is published.
    •This includes coffee and cake for you and your guest.
    • Booking and scheduling prior to June 2016 is essential, this is a preview.

    You are responsible for getting yourself there and home.

    This pledge does not include any travel costs or accommodation you may require to get to Reykjavik.

    Printed books and eBooks ship in August 2016.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 2 backers
    £
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £175 or more About $220

    THE SIGNED PRINT:

    •You get a signed limited edition print, (40x50cm/16x20"), of your choice from the series or my time in Iceland.
    •See www.gabriellemotola.com/kickstarterprints for image selection and to order once you've pledged. Alternatively will can also take your order when the campaign closes using Kickstarter's survey tool.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 4 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £275 or more About $346

    THE REVIEW:

    •You get the pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book

    •PLUS The eBook
    •PLUS a thirty minute video chat review of 20 of your images.

    •Including a written follow-up and feedback as to where you currently are and information to help with where you'd like to go with your photography.

    Availability begins in July 2016 and can be booked up through September 30th 2016.

    Printed books and eBooks ship in August 2016.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 1 backer
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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge £400 or more About $503

    THE WALKING TOUR AND LUNCH:

    •You get the pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book. PLUS the eBook.

    •PLUS a walking tour beginning with a cup of coffee or tea in my favourite Reykjavik coffee shop, followed by a one hour walking tour and talk around Reykjavik, weather permitting.

    • PLUS lunch at one of my favourite restaurants.

    You are responsible for getting yourself there and home.

    This pledge does not include any travel costs or accommodation you may require to get to Reykjavik.

    This pledge includes coffee and lunch.

    Availability begins in July 2016 and can be booked up through September 30th 2016.

    Please specify any dietary requirements.

    Printed books and eBooks ship in August 2016.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge £600 or more About $755

    THE PHILANTHROPIST:

    •You get the pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book.

    •PLUS the eBook

    •PLUS the signed limited edition print (40x50cm/16x20") of your choice from the series or my time in Iceland. See www.gabriellemotola.com/kickstarterprints for image selection and to order once you've pledged. Alternatively will can also take your order when the campaign closes using Kickstarter's survey tool.

    •PLUS your company logo or individual name printed in the book as a supporter

    *Prints will be delivered by April 2016.

    Printed books and eBooks ship in August 2016.

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    Limited 4 backers
    £
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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,200 or more About $1,510

    THE PROTÉGÉ:

    •You get the pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book.

    •PLUS the eBook

    •PLUS a one-on-one customised photography lesson in Reykjavik or London

    We'll discuss ahead of time what you would like to achieve and I will design a custom course, just for you. We will spend the day taking photographs, analysing results, improving, researching, discovering, and enjoying photography.

    This includes 2 hours of Internet-based follow-up support afterwards.

    You are responsible for getting yourself to the location.

    This reward does not include any travel or accommodation costs for yourself to or at the location.

    This reward does include all meals for the day as well as any travel on the day together.

    Availability begins in July 2016 and can be booked up until September 30th 2016.

    Printed books and eBooks ship in August 2016.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge £2,000 or more About $2,516

    THE PROTÉGÉ ADVENTURE:

    •You get the pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book.

    •PLUS the eBook

    •PLUS a one-on-one customised photography lesson in Reykjavik.

    •INCLUDING an adventure experience in an arctic truck or helicopter.

    This reward does not include any travel or accommodation costs for yourself to get to the location.

    This reward includes meals for the day as well as any travel together on the day.

    Availability begins in July 2016 and can be booked up until September 30th 2016.

    Printed books and eBooks ship in August 2016.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge £3,000 or more About $3,774

    THE SPEAKER:

    •You get the pre-ordered signed limited edition copy of the printed book.

    •PLUS the eBook

    •PLUS a presentation based on this project at your child's school, a business, a university, or in any community which embraces equality or needs to.

    I will deliver a personalised presentation of the project highlighting the key points learned through my experiences via an engaging and media enriched talk. I will work with you to make sure the material covers your agenda.

    Availability begins in September 2016 and can be booked up until December 20th 2016.

    Flights and dates are subject to availability. I will do my best to accommodate you.

    This reward covers £500 towards travel, lodging, and sustenance. Anything outside of that you agree to cover at your discretion.

    Printed books and eBooks ship in August 2016.

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Funding period

- (30 days)