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THREE NOTEWORTHY REYKJAVÍK STATUES

THREE NOTEWORTHY REYKJAVÍK STATUES

Published August 23, 2011

I appreciate a good statue more than most people. This may be because of my background as a stonemason. I have more than a rudimentary understanding of what it takes to reveal the form that resides within a block of stone, or to transform a shapeless piece of metal into something recognisable. And while I do not claim any expertise on the aesthetics, I believe my statue fetish makes me fully qualified to give you a reasoned list of three noteworthy statues in Reykjavík.

20 LOGAR
by Hagatorg
Artist: Hulda Hákon
While this is strictly not a statue, but rather a sculpture, 20 Logar is an artwork worth pointing out. The name translates to 20 Flames, with each flame repre-senting a member state of NATO. The sculpture was commissioned to artist Hulda Hákon and revealed in 2002 to commemorate the meeting of the 20 foreign ministers of the NATO states. Since its unveiling, it has repeatedly been targeted to protest NATO’s military efforts around the world. It has been covered in red paint on more than one occasion, and currently consists of a mere 18 flames, as two have gone missing over the years, most likely at the hands of anti-NATO enthusiasts, or possibly Communists. While other countries have many memorials dedicated to various war efforts, Icelanders have shown little tolerance for this little reminder of our involvement in NATO.

ALBERT GUÐMUNDSSON
by Laugardalshöll
Artist: Helgi Gíslason
Dedicated to Iceland’s first and most successful professional football player, Albert Guðmundsson, who played with powerhouses such as Arsenal, Glasgow Rangers and AC Milan, to name but a few, during a particularly industrious career. Albert would later move on to politics, but that’s probably another statue waiting to happen. This is a noteworthy statue for the simple fact that it may be the most ugly statue in Reykjavík. Statues of athletes often strike a posing figure. Manchester United’s “Holy Trinity” of Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law, outside their stadium is a good example. Or the graceful rendition of Michael Jordan outside Chicago Stadium. Albert Guðmundsson, however, strikes an awkward pose, as if leaning into the bar counter in an effort to swoon a bypassing lady of notice. The overall effect is less than gracious, and does little to do justice to this former great player.

ÓÞEKKTI EMBÆTTISMAÐURINN
Lækjargata, port
Artist Magnús Tómasson
The Unknown Bureaucrat is a popular favourite, as it manages to be both humorous and provocative, while truthfully depicting something that most everyone can relate to, the trivial existence of the working bee. The block of rock is a perfect metaphor for how everyday life crushes down on us, while at the same time depicting the narrative of the faceless official who is only a cog in the wheel, and never a person to most of us. Even the location is a thoughtful comment on the trivial existence of the Unknown Bureaucrat, in a closed off back alley. You really have to make an effort to find him, sealed off from any relevance, and the rest of the world in his isolated little corner of the universe.



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[Continued from Ungoo: Part IX] Earlier this year, a free-trade agreement between Iceland and China took effect. Iceland is the first, and so far the only, European country to make such an arrangement with the People’s Republic of. No one knows what that means. Literally no one. Perhaps some politicians, administrative staff or business managers think they do: they probably have some rough estimates about the agreement’s effects on our GDP, and at some point may have read an article or two about whether or not China has any imperial ambitions in the arctic. By and large, they would seem

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[Continued from Ungoo: Part VIII] Combined, these faults admittedly sound like the joke about that restaurant: two friends go out for dinner; one complains that the food tastes terrible to which the other replies: yes, and the portions are way too small. The like-button is probably the greatest invention since the billboard, and just as inattentive to thinking. Facebook is fast, whereas most sources seem to agree that depth is slow. If Facebook is the way we converse and, thereby, think, then yes, our culture is probably pretty shallow. Our, as in: yours too, wherever you are from. We are

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[Continued from Ungoo: Part VII] Which brings us back to Facebook. You may or may not know that a government agency called Promote Iceland has based whole marketing campaigns on encouraging the country’s inhabitants to employ social media to lure visitors. If those plans received any criticism at all, most of that probably appeared as Facebook posts, which were then drowned in more life-affirming messages. Nonetheless, debates take place on Facebook. If an interesting article appears elsewhere, whether on Starafugl or in Fréttablaðið, Facebook is still where most of the following debate will take place. Facebook is a radically new

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[Continued from Ungoo: Part VI] The most recent attempt to create a common venue for cultural commentary and debate is Starafugl, a website started and edited by author Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl. It’s been around since last winter. As I have been involved in various ways, I am liable to be considered biased when I claim that Starafugl has had a convincing first few months. I claim it, all the same. Starafugl ran into trouble a few weeks back, when it received its first ever invoice. The invoice charged Starafugl for a photograph, that had been used to illustrate an article

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[Continued from Ungoo: Part V] Radio program Víðsjá, run by state broadcaster RÚV, is in fact a tower within Iceland’s cultural panopticon. Which might serve as a translation for the program’s name. It reports on events and publications, and leaves space for commentary, which at times has been among the best you’ll find: inspired and grounded, informed and enlightening, at times romantic, courageous when needed. Incidentally, if I’m not mistaken, radio host Eiríkur Guðmundsson, often credited for having made the program what it is, was also a student of the aforementioned Matthías Viðar. Notwithstanding repeated downsizing of RÚV programming, the

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Air-bnb has announced its future vision —and a new logo. Supposedly composed from a heart, a location marker and the letter A, the logo has already been the target of much ridicule, needless to repeat here. The logo is not the point. One of the its main virtues, according to the company’s announcement, is that it is easy to draw. This serves a function: people all over the world are offered to draw the logo on just about anything they are willing to share for a fee. As the company’s statement says, Air-bnb is not just about sharing spaces, but

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