A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015
Mag
Articles
The Elves Could Not Be Reached For Comment

The Elves Could Not Be Reached For Comment

Published June 4, 2012

Member of Parliament Árni Johnsen recently arranged for the transportation of a 50 tonne boulder from the Hellisheiði mountain pass to his backyard in Vestmannaeyjar—a more ideal environment Árni says, for the family of elves who inhabit it. Yes, a set of grandparents, a couple of parents and three children, who stand no more than 80 centimetres tall, have reportedly joined the 4,000 people who live on the small island off the south coast of Iceland.
Árni says he became acquainted with these particular elves after a high-speed crash in 2010, wherein his car torpedoed 40 metres off the highway, destroying the vehicle, but leaving him unscathed. “[The elves] told me that they wanted to be in the grass,” Árni says. “Now they have windows looking toward the sea and the island, and some sheep as neighbours. Everything is under control.”
Courting the elf electorate
Árni, who will run for re-election next year, says he is not the only MP who believes in elves, though he refuses to give up the identities of others.
Despite the fact that only 8% of Icelanders admit to believing in elves outright, according to a 2007 poll conducted by Terry Gunnell, head of folkloristics at the University of Iceland, Headmaster of the Elf school, Magnús Skarphéðinsson says plenty of government officials and ministers, including President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, believe in elves. It would be “political suicide in Iceland to claim elves don’t exist,” Magnús adds.
Indeed, some government projects take this elf stuff seriously. As an MP who sits on the Committee on the Environment and Transport, Árni says construction workers needed to move a large stone when building a road from Keflavík International Airport to Reykjavík two years ago. Árni sent a specialist to check if the boulder housed elves, and his suspicions were confirmed.
“When I came close to the stone, I could see light in it. There were a few elves there,” Árni says. “If you move them, it’s okay, you just have to be very careful and speak to them and be very gentle.”
More recently, residents of Bolungarvík in the Westfjords blamed elves for construction equipment breaking down as workers were drilling a tunnel through a mountain last June, potentially disturbing elf homes. Townspeople, workers and a priest came together to try to ward off the elves’ spiritual backlash. “Of course they have lots power,” Árni says. “Even for such little creatures.”
Elf relocation is controversial
Árni maintains that the elves were willing immigrants to his backyard, noting that television personality and self-proclaimed elf specialist Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir signed off on the move. But elf scholar Magnús Skarphéðinsson is crying foul.
“This could be dangerous,” says Magnús, who has spent the last 30 years studying the lives of elves and hidden people (the latter being just as mystical as elves, but are reportedly human-sized), during which time he says he has met more than 700 people who have seen or talked to elves. Elves don’t typically consent to having their homes moved over land and sea, Magnús says. He claims Árni’s actions were a “maniac idea” that would likely result in “a sort of revenge.”
Árni has resuscitated his own political life after he was sentenced to two years in prison in 2003 for embezzling government funds from a project to refurbish the National Theatre. Former Prime Minister Geir Haarde pardoned him in 2006, and Árni wasn’t ready to say that the elves look down on his troubled past: “You should ask God that question. He knows it best.”  



Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

CLOSED DOORS, EMPTY STOMACH, DESPERATE MEASURES

by

Adam was standing in the rain when I picked him up. He had just come from an appointment with a woman at the Red Cross, telling them about his hunger strike and the reasons for it. “They were nice,” he said, with a slightly exasperated air. “I asked her if they could send my body back to Iraq if I die. She was sad and said ‘please don’t say that’. But I really want to know. My mother and my sisters will want to see me for the last time.” He placed his briefcase neatly in his lap. This was

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

The New Kids On The Block

by

Laugavegur, quite the dandy’s lane, is swarming with trendy menswear addresses that all offer a certain vision of what lavishly dressed men should be. Enter Skyrta (“Shirt”), a newly launched Icelandic made-to-measure shirt company that lets the local peacocks decide what spiffing shirts should look like. With customers in our blogger era more fashion-savvy than ever before, giving the reigns of design to the customer makes total sense. To learn more about Skyrta, I visit founder Leslie Dcunha and art director Terence Samuel Devos at their headquarters on Klapparstígur, just off Laugavegur. They have clearly worked hard to make it

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Microphonic Body Machine

by

Ekeberg Park, Oslo: The September sun reflects in yellow leaves. Angela Rawlings and her colleagues reach the centre of the posh sculpture-park: a forest of glass. The walls capture, care for, and feed back the voice of Angela and a partner in crime, Elfi Sverdrup, transforming a gentle acoustic test into what Angela herself calls “an unanticipated partnership.” And what a partner Angela makes; the 2001 recipient of the bpNichol Award for Distinction in Writing, an award winning poet, a much sought after arts educator; of creative writing, ballroom-, swing-, and salsa dancing—and a producer of festivals, magazines, magical soundworks, plus so

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Was Literature’s First Man On The Moon An Icelandic Peasant?

by

My name is Duracotus and my fatherland Iceland called Thule by the ancients. My mother, Fiolxhilde who died recently left me at leisure to write something which I already ardently desired to do. While she lived she diligently saw to it that I did not write, for she said that there were many malicious usurpers of the arts, who, because they did not understand anything, on account of the ignorance of their mind, misrepresented them and made laws detrimental to the human race. Under these laws, many men would assuredly have been condemned and swallowed up in the abysses of

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Keeping The Romance Alive

by

In our third and final instalment of “Mexicans: They’re Everywhere,” we meet Libertad Venegas. Prior to her first visit to Iceland, the only thing she knew about the country was that it was home to a famous singer called Björk. For Libertad, that tiny speck of earth above Europe with the intimidating name was a land of total mystery. As fate would have it, Libertad wound up falling in love with an Icelander she met online. After a period of courtship, the two made plans to convene in person, and, as they say, the rest is history. “I was going

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Endless Bubble Of Overblown Expectations

by

In the spring of 2007, when the Icelandic financial bubble was reaching its peak, the Ministry of Industry held a press conference to announce it intended to undertake an environmental impact assessment of oil exploration off the coast of Northeast Iceland, near the Jan-Mayen ridge. The press was quick to see what this meant: Untold riches! “Oil exploration might begin next summer,” the headlines read, and many Icelanders, who had already started to believe the country was on its way to becoming a North Atlantic Switzerland could now fantasize about living in an Arctic Saudi Arabia. Although there was no

Show Me More!