Don’t Feed Birds Bread in Summer, Says City of Reykjavík

Giving bread to ducklings on Reykjavík Pond could turn them into seagulls’ dinner, according to a notice from the City of Reykjavík. The pond (Tjörnin) is known for its vibrant birdlife, including ducks, swans, and geese, which both locals and tourists enjoy visiting. The city has asked visitors to stop bringing along bread for the birds, however, as it attracts seagulls to the pond, which are then more likely to feed on ducklings as well.

“With an increase in lesser black-backed gulls at Tjörnin comes an increase in the likelihood that newly hatched ducklings will become their prey,” the notice reads. “Ducks have enough food for themselves and their ducklings at Tjörnin throughout the summer and therefore it’s not necessary to feed them. A large quantity of bread can increase the organic pollution in the pond, especially because the number of birds increases dramatically when the gulls show up to the pond. The droppings from the birds, as well as the bread itself, increases organic pollution.”

While the city asks visitors to avoid feeding the ducks between May 15 and August 15, the same is not true for the rest of the year. “It’s safe to feed the birds in Tjörnin throughout the fall and winter months and such support is welcome, especially when the weather is at its coldest during midwinter, as food for ducks can be of short supply during that time of year.”

Vigil to Commemorate Nuclear Bombing Victims Will Be Virtual This Year

The annual candle floating ceremony to commemorate the victims of the US nuclear bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will not take place in person at Tjörnin pond in downtown Reykjavík this year, Vísir reports. In deference to the more stringent social distancing measures now in place to quell a recent jump in community transmitted infections, organizers will record a smaller, more sparsely attended event and stream it online.

The victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings have been memorialized during the annual candle floating vigil every year since 1985.

This year’s online vigil will be streamed on August 6, although the event itself will take place at 11pm on the evening before, to mark the time that the nuclear bomb exploded in Hiroshima 75 years ago.

Little Mersausage Meets Tragic Fate

The Little Mersausage statue that’s stood in Tjörnin pond since late October met a tragic fate on Thursday, Vísir reports. Reykjavíkers woke to find that the artwork—which has divided opinions, to say the least—had been decapitated. It is as yet unclear if The Little Mersausage came to this end during an unusually strong wind, or if vandals are behind the damage.

The sculpture was installed as part of the Cycle Music and Art Festival and raised some eyebrows for its resemblance to a phallus. But while Artist Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir acknowledged the similarity, she said it wasn’t the original point of the work, which, among other things, was meant to celebrate Iceland’s 100-year anniversary as a sovereign nation.

The Mersausage also struck a pose similar to that of the famous sculpture of H.C. Andersen’s Little Mermaid, which is famously perched alongside a Copenhagen waterway, and coincidentally, has been beheaded a number of times herself. Icelandic artist Nína Sæmundsson also sculpted her own bronze version of the Danish sculpture, which has been a resident of Tjörnin pond since 2014.

Bjarni Brynjólfsson, the City of Reykjavík’s public relation officer, had no comment on the damage, as he’d only just seen that The Mersausage was no longer standing in the pond when he was contacted by Vísir.

See pictures of the damage here.

 

“Little Mersausage” Statue Raises Eyebrows in Reykjavík

A new sculpture that was installed in Tjörnin pond on Friday night as part of the Cycle Music and Art Festival has raised some eyebrows in downtown Reykjavík for its resemblance to a phallus, mbl.isreports. Artist Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir acknowledges the similarity, but says it wasn’t the original point of the work, which, among other things, is meant to celebrate Iceland’s 100-year anniversary as a sovereign nation.

“Hafpulsan,” which has been called “The Little Pond Dog,” in English, or in other places, “The Little Mer-Sausage,” takes its name from the combination of the Icelandic words for ‘mermaid’ (hafmeyja) and ‘hot dog’ (pulsa/pylsa). And while its shape may indeed bear some resemblance to male genitalia, The Mersausage also strikes a pose similar to that of the famous sculpture of H.C. Andersen’s Little Mermaid, which is famously perched alongside a Copenhagen waterway. Icelandic artist Nína Sæmundsson also sculpted her own bronze version of the Danish sculpture, which has been a resident of Tjörnin pond since 2014.

“It’s a hot dog that is sitting like a mermaid on a little bread roll out in the pond,” explained Steinunn. “It’s sitting tall and pleased with itself, but then it’s also a little mer-sausage in a pond, some kind of strange, handless creature that has no idea how powerful it is. It’s also a bit uncanny,” she continued.

Steinunn does, however, acknowledge some gender play in her sculpture. “It is both a mermaid, which is generally female, and also a penis, in that it’s pretty difficult to work with this sausage form without it turning into a penis. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” she said.

The theme of this year’s Cycle Festival is “A Nation Among Nations,” which artistic director Guðný Guðmundsdóttir says concludes a two-year research project on Icelandic sovereignty in the context of colonial history. The inspiration for Steinunn’s sculpture actually dates back to 2009, when the artist made a video and installation called “Lýðræðið er pulsa,” or “Democracy is a Hot Dog,” which was exhibited in advance of parliamentary elections.

“…[I]t ignited my interest in a hot dog as a metaphor,” explained Steinunn. “The idea with the video was that a hot dog in its hot dog bun is an obligation—it is democracy. We can’t choose what it’s like, whether we have it or not—we’re born into it. But what we can choose are the toppings and when we go to vote, we’re [also] choosing toppings. But in the end, we’re all eating hot dogs and the difference between parties is greater than the difference between remoulade and mustard, all of it just rather cheap ‘junk,’” she said. “Democracy is a Hot Dog” has since been shown on election days in 2009, 2013, 2016, and 2017.

“Hafpulsan” will be on display in Tjörnin pond until December. Steinunn says her dream is for a bronze cast of the sculpture to be installed in Tjörnin in perpetuity. “I hope that most people get a kick out of it and that it’s an inspiration in the broadest sense. In the end, it’s just some strange creature that lives in the pond.”