The Peoples’ Party, a new right wing populist party setting their sights on Parliament later this month, have made an enemy. That enemy is the rights holder to Sólfarið, a statue you have likely seen many times before in any photos associated with Reykjavík.
The Peoples’ Party has been using a photo of this statue in their introductory material about the party. This has caused no small amount of consternation for Þorbjörg Jónsdóttir, the daughter of Jón Gunnar Árnason, the artist who built Sólfarið in 1987.
“It shows a great deal of disrespect for the artwork and its creator that Sólfarið is used in this way and tied in with certain political ideas,” Þorbjörg told RÚV. “This party or any other—it doesn’t matter. I asked them to take it down and not use Sólfarið anymore in their marketing.”
In fact, the matter is now on the desk of Myndstef, the company which oversees the use of rights for works of art. While the person reporters spoke with would not comment on this particular case, she confirmed that when someone uses a work of art in this manner, they are usually expected to pay for its use. Þorbjörg is demanding recompense, as well as damages for unauthorised use.
Remember Air Bud
Inga Sæland, the chair of the Peoples’ Party, responded by taking the Air Bud Defense. As anyone will remember, the plot of Air Bud hinged on the idea that there is no rule which expressly forbids a dog from playing basketball.
“The main rule is, if it isn’t banned, then it’s allowed,” Inga argued, saying that it was a party employee who took the photo, meaning they can use the photo as they please. She also offered her own passive-aggressive suggestions for the children of the artist.
“This is some artwork down by the sea,” Inga said. “It doesn’t say anywhere that you may not take a photo of the work. Maybe they should set up a sign there, so regular people know you’re not allowed to take photos of it.”
That, of course, ignores the main argument Þorbjörg is making. It doesn’t matter who takes a picture of Sólfarið, but it does matter if that photo is then used to market something. Whether the People’s Party will pay up or stop using Sólfarið remains to be seen.