Björk Awarded Honorary Degree by Iceland University of the Arts

Björk Guðmundsdóttir

Icelandic artist Björk was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Iceland University of the Arts during a graduation ceremony at Harpa Music Conference Hall on June 16, 2023. It marks the second time in the university’s history that such an accolade has been bestowed.

“No ordinary musician”

At a graduation ceremony at the Harpa Music Conference Hall on June 16, 2023, Icelandic artist Björk Guðmundsdóttir was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Iceland University of the Arts. She received the honour in recognition of her “significant artistic contributions.”

As noted by a press release on the university’s website, the honorary doctorate is bestowed upon individuals who have made a distinctive impact on art and culture and serves as an opportunity for the institution to pay homage to the recipient’s achievements and contributions to the academic realm of art.

To be eligible for the recognition, recipients must have made an important contribution and “garnered respect within their respective fields, be it as artists, academics, or influential figures in the realms of culture, art, or art education.”

During the event, Friða Björk Ingvarsdóttir, President of the Iceland University of the Arts, delivered a speech highlighting the career of Björk, describing her as a formidable force. “Björk is no ordinary musician; a different set of laws seem to be govern her work. As a solo artist, she has consistently revitalised her bond with her compositions and her own image. Each new creation she presents brings us an unforeseen and harmonious world.”

“Most of us are familiar with the story of how Björk practically introduced Icelandic music to a global audience,” Fríða Björk continued. “While other Icelandic musicians have garnered acclaim and left an impression worldwide, Björk was the trailblazer who effectively brought Icelandic music into the international spotlight. Her groundbreaking achievements have undoubtedly benefited subsequent artists who have followed in her footsteps.”

Two works by Björk were performed at the ceremony: a performance of Atopos by Murmura, on the one hand, and a performance of Tabula Rasa by Viibra.

This marks the second time in the university’s history that such an accolade has been bestowed. Composer Hjálmar H. Ragnarsson was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2016.

New Daycare Providers to Receive ISK 1 Million in Start-Up Funding

Reykjavík City Hall ráðhús

Reykjavík’s City Council recently passed a proposal stipulating that new daycare providers receive a startup grant of ISK 1 million ($7,300 / €6,700). The Chairman of the Council believes that the proposal will result in significant cost savings for parents, Vísir reports.

Same fee for daycare and kindergartens

On Thursday, June 15, the City Council of Reykjavík approved a proposal stipulating that daycare centres that commence operations in Reykjavík will receive a start-up grant of ISK 1 million ($7,300 / €6,700). ISK 250,000 ($1,800 / €1,700) will be paid upon the signing of a service contract, and ISK 750,000 ($5,500 / €5,000) a year later. In addition, the City of Reykjavík will organise and pay for an accident prevention course every two years for all daycare providers, Vísir reports.

Einar Þorsteinsson, the Chair of Reykjavík City Council and future mayor, highlighted a significant change in the recently agreed proposal; under the new arrangement, parents will pay the same fee to the daycare centre as they would for kindergarten once their child reaches 18 months of age. As noted by Vísir, the ruling coalition had previously promised that children as young as twelve months could enrol in kindergarten.

“The city’s rules stipulate that children should be admitted by the age of eighteen months,” Einar told Vísir. “Ensuring equal treatment for parents, regardless of whether they opt for daycare providers or the preschool system, is important. The new proposal aims to achieve this by implementing a uniform fee structure. It also aims to support families who have been on the kindergarten waiting list for an extended period by covering their expenses.”

Einar maintains that parents’ payments are being reduced by tens of thousands of króna per month. “Alongside this proposal, we’re also advertising for housing among private parties. We are specifically seeking ground floors, mobile units within open-air playgrounds (i.e. gæsluvellir), and unused retail spaces that could potentially serve as suitable locations for daycare facilities. These spaces may not be suitable for kindergartens, but they meet the requirements for daycare services.”

The new proposals are not unfair to those who already work as daycare providers, according to Einar: “These proposals are aimed at increasing the number of daycare providers, improving their working environment and conditions. Reykjavík’s School and Recreation department had a good meeting with both of the two daycare parents’ associations, and the proposals take into account their views.

Gerður

icelandic short fiction

Sunna Dís Másdóttir is a member of the Impostor Poets, a women’s poetry collective, withwhom she has published the poetry collections Ég er ekki að rétta upp hönd, Ég erfagnaðarsöngur and Nú sker ég netin mín. Their novel Olía (Oil) was nominated for the IcelandicLiterary Prize in 2021. Other members of the collective are Fríða […]

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Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir Succeeds Jón Gunnarsson as Justice Minister

Guðrún hafsteinsdóttir

Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir officially succeeded Jón Gunnarsson as Minister of Justice at a state council meeting this morning. At a press conference following the meeting, Guðrún stated that immigration was “the most urgent issue” facing Icelandic society today.

“That’s politics”

At a party meeting in Valhöll yesterday, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson confirmed that Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir would take over as Minister of Justice from Jón Gunnarsson. Guðrún was promised a ministerial position following the elections in 2021.

In an interview with Vísir, Bjarni Benediktsson stated that he did not worry about the divisiveness of the decision; Jón had done an excellent job as a minister, that he enjoyed the support of party members all over the country, but that he had faith that Guðrún could do well as his successor. Bjarni also made mention of the fact that this was the first time that women were in the majority of the Independence Party’s ministerial staff.

Guðrún told Vísir that she was excited about her new role. Asked if policy changes could be expected, she stated that Jón had worked according to the policies of the Independence Party and its national conference. “Which I will, of course, also do.” Some changes would be made, but first, she planned to identify the most urgent issues facing the Ministry: “We will see how things go from there,” Guðrún remarked.

Jón observed that the decision was in accordance with what was proposed at the beginning of the election period, although he did not deny wanting to remain as a minister. “But that’s politics,” he added.

Ministerial change confirmed at Bessastaðir

The ministerial change was officially confirmed at a state council meeting at Bessastaðir, the presidential residence, this morning. Jón Gunnarsson will remain an MP, although it remains to be seen whether he will take over as Chair of the Economic and Trade Committee from Guðrún.

At a press conference after the meeting, Guðrún stated that like her predecessor would follow the Independence Party’s policy in matters of immigration, adding that all systems in the asylum seeker system were being severely tested. “Immigration is the most urgent issue in Icelandic society today,” she observed. Guðrún also mentioned police matters and the sale of alcohol as urgent issues facing the cabinet.

Appointments to the National Court imminent

One of the projects that Guðrún takes on is the appointment of judges at the National Court.

The application deadline for one judge position at the National Court expired a week ago. While the state council meeting took place, the Ministry of Justice published a list of candidates: Ásgerður Ragnarsdóttir and Kjartan Bjarni Björgvinsson have applied for the position. As noted by RÚV, either of them will be appointed to the position starting August 21 after a jury considers their qualifications.

Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir
Golli

Co-Tenant Arrested in Hafnarfjörður Murder Case

The man found dead in an industrial area in Hafnarfjörður on Saturday morning is believed to have died from stab wounds, RÚV reports. The police have arrested the man’s co-tenant on suspicion of murder.

Exact circumstances remain unclear

A man discovered unconscious in an industrial area in Hafnarfjörður on Saturday morning is believed to have died from stab wounds, according to authorities. The man’s co-tenant has been taken into police custody on suspicion of murder. This incident marks the third homicide in Iceland in two months.

“We are investigating a suspected homicide,” Grímur Grímsson, Chief Superintendent of the Icelandic Police’s central investigative department, told RÚV yesterday. While he declined to disclose specific details, he clarified the ongoing nature of the case.

“At this point, I’m not prepared to go into too much detail in this investigation,” Grímur told RÚV. “Given the recent occurrence, it is not feasible to delve deeper into it.” RÚV sources indicate that the attack occurred inside the victim’s bedroom early on Saturday morning, following which he managed to exit the residence before succumbing to his injuries.

“While the exact circumstances remain uncertain, the deceased exhibited injuries consistent with stab wounds, leading us to work on the assumption that he died as a result of such an injury,” Grímur stated when addressing concerns about alternative causes of death.

An autopsy is expected to determine the definitive cause of the man’s death.

A third party called the police

The deceased was in his forties and the suspect about forty years old, according to the police. Both hail from Poland. The men knew each other and shared a residence. According to sources, the suspect reportedly confided in a third party about the attack, leading to a subsequent call to the police. As a result, two individuals were apprehended. “We detained two men, one at the scene and the other a short distance away,” Grímur remarked to RÚV.

The latter individual was released on Saturday after it became evident that he had no involvement in the case, despite being present at the scene. The suspect, however, has been remanded in custody for five days.

This incident marks the third homicide of the year and the third within the past two months.

When asked about the significance of these occurrences, the police downplayed any interpretation, stating: “Currently, there is no specific implication. Historically, Iceland has experienced an average of 1.7 to 1.8 homicide cases per year. Sometimes these incidents cluster together, followed by periods of relative calm. Hence, we do not attribute any particular meaning to this pattern at present.”