Reykjavík City Authorities Film Director’s Artwork Skip to content

Reykjavík City Authorities Film Director’s Artwork

Film director Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, famous for his Viking movie trilogy, and Reykjavík City authorities have been in dispute over ponds and artwork, which the director has established outside the perimeters of his building lot on Laugarnestangi.

Hrafn Gunnlaugsson. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

According to an agreement between Gunnalugsson and Reykjavík City from 2003, Gunnlaugsson does not have the authority to make any changes to the grounds outside his lot’s borders, Fréttabladid reports.

City authorities say Gunnlaugsson has not complied with this agreement and he has received a few letters and warnings regarding this issue, to which he has not responded. The authorities have now decided to clear the area.

Gunnlaugsson has also received a letter from the Archeological Heritage Agency of Iceland, saying that he is in violation of archeological heritage regulations as archeological remains that are on the land surrounding Gunnlaugsson’s lot, which is owned by Reykjavík City, are “covered with foreign stones and iron.”

“The same rules apply to Hrafn as anyone else,” said Ellý Katrín Gudmundsdóttir, managing director of the executive and asset division of Reykjavík City. “This cleaning is a cleaning of the city’s land. I had a good meeting with Hrafn [on Tuesday] and he has an understanding as to why we are doing this.”

The land in question is a settlement area and the archeological remains on it are protected by law. Additionally, the land is defined as an outdoor recreational area and it is listed in the national history site register.

Gunnlaugsson had already changed the land to some extent before 2003 and according to the aforementioned agreement, he will be paid ISK 10 million (USD 78,000, EUR 58,000) with the subtracted cost of restoring the land to its original form.

Since then, the director has changed the land again and Gudmundsdóttir said it has yet to be decided how much the current cleaning will cost him.

Gunnlaugsson told Fréttabladid on Monday that he would like to resolve the issue by extending his lot’s borders but Gudmundsdóttir said he has since decided otherwise. However, they agreed to find a new location for three sculptures that are now being removed from the area.

Gunnlaugsson doesn’t want to comment much on the debate with the city but stated that he is still looking into whether he can extend the borders of the lot.

In addition to the artwork, he had made ponds for birds on the land. “The ponds have been removed and there is no fresh water left for the geese. The great goose colony in Laugarnes will probably disappear,” Gunnlaugsson said.

When asked whether he feels if he is being treated unfairly, the director would only say, “It depends on how you define it. Don’t we all own the city’s land? This has been a no man’s land and I’ve been trying to beautify it and make it more appealing for city residents.”

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