Hlynur Hallsson, a visual artist from Akureyri, believes to have found the person responsible for spray-painting natural relics in the Mývatn region in Northeast Iceland with giant letters in May, branded by the Environment Agency of Iceland as a “nature terrorist.” The actions were illegal and are subject to a criminal investigation.Photos: Hlynur Hallsson.
Hlynur was gallery hopping in Berlin when he noticed an exhibition at the Alexander Levy gallery by an artist by the name of Julius von Bismarck, a student at the Studio Olafur Eliasson, a laboratory for spatial research established by Icelandic-Danish artist Ólafur Elíasson.
The photographs on display showed the places in the Mývatn region after they had been spray-painted with the giant letters, akureyrivikublad.is reports.
Hlynur took pictures of the artwork, which have now been posted on the website of Akureyri Vikublað.
The pictures showed Hverfjall where ‘CRATER’ was spelled out in giant letters, Grjótagjá where the word ‘CAVE’ was painted and a rock by Kálfaströnd discovered later where ‘LAVA’ was written in large spray-painted letters.
A fourth pictures showed a moss-covered lava field where the word ‘MOOS’ has been painted, which has yet to be found. Moss is a sensitive plant and can live to become centuries’ old.
“I don’t approve of works that damage nature, regardless whether they’re made in the name of visual art or commercialism. To mark moss, lava or rock faces with paint which doesn’t wash off in the rain is unnecessary and obviously damages nature,” Hlynur commented.
Hlynur himself is known for his spray-paint artwork but he condemns the method used in the Mývatn region.
“To write in the sand or snow can be more affective even though it only lasts a short time. The artwork … would have been better had it been written with chalk or water colors which would have disappeared shortly but still lasted long enough to be photographed. Then nature would have been given the respect it deserves,” stated Hlynur.
The tuff ring volcano Hverfjall is under nature protection. Employees of the Environment Agency of Iceland used rakes and gray paint to temporarily cover the letters and will work on further repairs this summer.
The police in Húsavík are responsible for investigating the matter and have said Hlynur will probably be asked for a statement, Fréttablaðið reports.
The police revealed that earlier evidence had linked a group of artists who were in the Mývatn region at the time to the damages but the investigation of their affairs didn’t deliver any results. The new evidence may get the ball rolling again, the police stated.
Violation of the nature protection laws can result in up to two years in prison.