Ask any Icelander and they’ll tell you this week has been more curious than most, with major political scandals painting the headlines, all while one of our most famous artists have achieved new heights abroad. So here is this week’s most curious news stories, shortened for you into easily digestible chunks.
Bombs Away for Christmas Cleaning
A Reykjanesbær resident got a little more than he had bargained for this week after setting out to clean his home for the Christmas season. For what he found, nestled and cosied away in his upstairs attic, was something capable of providing a far bigger bang than your average firecracker or firework.
No, this was a fully fledged bomb, one owned by the Iceland Defense Forces during the dreary days of the Second World War. Thankfully, the resident knew not to touch the device, having no idea of its history or whether it was still active, and so turned to the police for help. Without setting off so much as a spark, the police removed the bomb and later found it to be inactive.
See Also: The History of Iceland
Political Scandal Inspires New Beer AND Painting
In the murky world of Icelandic politics, it is only so long that secrets, corrupt deals and ugly opinions make their way to the surface, as proved by the current political scandal that has sent ripples across the country. Cue Klausturgate.
I’m sure, at first, that going for a few drinks down at Klaustur bar seemed like the perfect idea for our parliamentarians in question—namely the Centre Party’s Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Bergþór Ólason, Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (former prime minister of Iceland), and Ólafur Ísleifsson and Karl Gauti Hjaltason of the People’s Party.
After enough alcohol intake, however, the conversation turned into a session of vicious bad mouthing about their political colleagues. This badmouthing would quickly turn nasty and personal, so vitriolic, in fact, that it would demand the resignation or immediate firing of any politician with lesser influence. We’re talking conversation that was blatant in its misogyny, homophobia and ableism.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has been tangled in a scandal of his own making, as seen with John Oliver´s coverage of the Panama Papers issue.
See Also: Gender Equality in Iceland
Thankfully, this particular conversation was recorded without their knowledge and dutifully released to the media. Over the last week, there have been excuses, threats and a large protest in the city. It has also inspired all kinds of new and creative concepts that the Icelanders have eagerly sought to explore, either for humour, taste or a mere better understanding of the dark heart of internal politics.
One of the more notable examples is a new Christmas Pale Ale brewed by Borg Brugghús and released last Thursday at Klaustur Bar. The name of the beer, though difficult to translate, is Skyld’að vera Stólahljóð and is in reference to one of the more untoward comments made by the former Prime Minister, Sigmund Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
The painter, Þrándur Þórarinsson, also created a new piece based on the events that night at Klaustur bar. The painting was unveiled today at 16:00 in Gallery Port, coinciding with a talk by the artist who offers his own interpretation of the various characters and motifs that make it so… so haunting…
Jónsi Nominated for a Grammy Award
Jónsi, the beloved and ethereally-voiced lead singer of Iceland band Sigur Rós, has been nominated for a Grammy Award for the song ‘Revelation,’ written alongside Troye Sivan for the coming-of-age film, Boy Erased.
See Also: Sigur Rós | 18 Seconds Before Sunrise
The film follows Jared Eamons, an all-American boy who’s admission of his own sexuality leads his family to enrol him into religious conversion therapy. The film was written and directed by Joel Edgerton and is an adaption of Garrard Conley’s autobiographical written work.
Conversion therapy is an extremely controversial practice in the United States that aims to dissuade young gay men from their feelings, often for the sake of their family’s religious sensibilities. This pseudoscience causes terrible confusion for those undergoing the ‘treatment’, and ultimately leads to far deeper fractures in family dynamics, and will in almost all cases create further feelings of isolation and depression.
This is not the first time that Jónsi has dipped his toes into the world of scoring cinema. He has previously written songs for How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel, as well as wrote the music for the Matt Damon vehicle, We Bought a Zoo. He, of course, also starred in a background role as a minstrel in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Mer-Sausage Fails to Perform
You might remember a strange story that appeared a few weeks ago relating to a certain phallic sculpture that was erected at Tjörnin Pond.
Appearing as a pink hot dog, perched seductively on a pale bun, this art piece by Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir was quickly labelled as the Little Mer-Sausage, an authentically Icelandic parody of Copenhagen’s famed Mermaid statue.
Well, unfortunately, plastic hot dogs appear not to have the same longevity as our mainland cousin’s counterpart. This week, neighbours to the pond opened their curtains to find the Mer-Sausage had been smashed, broken, humiliated and belittled, split into three pieces where its ‘head’ should have been. I can only imagine the horror and grief that such residents felt.
Perhaps the Little Mer-Sausage will stand tall once more, but perhaps not. There is, after all, medication for what it has.