Published March 8, 2007
Welcome, dear reader, to the 54th issue of the Reykjavík Grapevine. This might be our lightest issue to date. Sometimes it just cannot be helped: things fall apart at the last minute, and all of a sudden you have a completely different paper on your hands. That is not to say that this issue is any worse than what had been planned. On the contrary. I am extremely proud of no. 54 and the people who put in the extra effort to make it come together.
On to other subjects. I would like to direct your attention to a photo on page 30. It is a photo of a historic house on the corner of Austurstræti and Pósthússtræti, one of the hallmarks of Reykjavík Centrum. Designed by Guðjón Samúelsson (1887-1950), Iceland’s most celebrated architect, the house was the first “big” building to rise in Iceland, constructed between 1916 and 1917 after a 1915 fire destroyed many wooden houses in the surrounding area. Influenced by Art Nouveau and Danish Nationalist Romanticism, with curved lines, poles and marble stairs, the house is also decorated with statues by the sculptor Einar Jónsson, one of Iceland’s most respected artists. It is, in every way, a fine testimony to our cultural heritage.
If you still haven’t looked at the photo, you might think that I am simply describing a building. You would be wrong. On the corner, just above the entrance to the restaurant Apótekið is a statue, one of the many Einar Jónsson designed for the building. It shows the figure of an angel looking up towards the sky. But the angel’s view is obstructed. Some genius decided that just above its head would be the perfect place for a CCTV camera. From its metal foundation, rust drips constantly on to the angel’s face, down its chin and throat, as if it had been chewing tobacco but lacked the proper skills to spit it out properly.
The audacity to treat our cultural heritage with such little respect! This is nothing short of cultural terrorism. While city officials have been on a rampage, following kids with spray cans around the city, no one seems to have given a second thought to ruining one of the few truly historic landmarks in Reykjavík. This is beyond belief and borders on the ridiculous.