A peculiar erasure of an iconic artwork decorating the Fishing Industry Building in the Reykjavík city center has Icelanders dumbfounded. For more than two years, a mural depicting an Icelandic fisherman had decorated the tall white wall, until it was painted over this Sunday.
At first, it seemed that nobody knew who was responsible for the removal. Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries, Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, told Fréttablaðið she was unhappy about the removal stating: “I was told that we had received a complaint from nearby residents who argued that the painting was only supposed to be there temporarily. But the painting itself was very fitting for the building and there should have been a protocol in place with our neighbors, asking them if we couldn’t keep the painting. I just think that this is highly ill-considered and even worse if people aren’t respecting copyrights and the general rights of artists”
The ministry told reporters that they had gotten the order to remove the painting from the city council, though Ólöf Örvarsdóttir, Director of Planning in Reykjavík, had no idea about the matter and was surprised by the removal. The mural was originally painted on the wall as part of decorations for the Iceland Airwaves festival back in 2015. It was supposed to be removed shortly after the festival but proved to suit the building well, so plans to remove it never came to fruition.
On Tuesday, however, it seemed that the painting was removed due to a “loud” nearby resident, Hjörleifur Guttormsson, retired minister and member of parliament, who had sent numerous e-mails regarding the matter stating that he didn’t like the artwork, asking when it would be removed.
This revelation has sparked outrage among Icelanders, although some find it humorous with one person suggesting a new solution to the issue; painting the wall with a picture of Hjörleifur himself: