‘The Black Cone,’ a sculpture by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra, created as a monument to civil disobedience under inspiration from the mass protests on Austurvöllur square in front of the parliament in Reykjavík after the banking collapse in 2008, has proven a source of major controversy in Reykjavík City Council.
Sierra donated his artwork to the city under the condition that it be permanently placed on Austurvöllur. Councilors of the Best Party and Social Democrats, who represent the majority in the City Council, agreed on Tuesday that ‘The Black Cone’ be located on the square’s southwestern corner as suggested by Hafþór Yngvason, director of Reykjavík Art Museum, Fréttablaðið reports.
Members of Alþingi, the parliament, have expressed their decided opposition to having the artwork located on Austurvöllur and the minority in Reykjavík City Council feels the same way.
Kjartan Magnússon, councilor for the Independence Party, claimed that ‘The Black Cone’ is a symbol of violence; even though most protestors were peaceful, there were also rioters among them who acted violently and injured police officers.
“Although not to a large extent, a legally elected government was dispelled with threats of violence,” stated Kjartan, adding that he hopes such events will never be repeated. “I don’t see a reason to remember them with a special monument. At least it could have been placed somewhere else, not in this sacred national location.”
Sóley Tómasdóttir of the Left-Greens said during City Council meeting on Tuesday that it is positive to connect art and civil disobedience.
Civil disobedience is necessary for society, Sóley said, but she disapproves of the artist’s methods, which includes paying people of the lowest classes in society to participate in degrading acts. Kjartan agrees.
An election will be held in Reykjavík next spring. When asked whether a new majority would consider removing the artwork from Austurvöllur, Kjartan said it is too soon to tell.
‘The Black Cone’ was originally displayed on Austurvöllur in front of the parliament in February as part of the traveling exhibition NO, Global Tour by Sierra, hosted by Reykjavík Art Museum.
Click here to read a review of the exhibition.