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Street Art in Reykjavík

From Reykjavík. Photo: Brian Simpson.

Q: Whilst in Reykjavik I was amazed by the street art and took quite a few photographs. Is the law on street art/graffiti in public places as liberal as it seems? Somebody has a very good business selling spray paint.

Phil, US

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A: According to information from the City of Reykjavík, graffiti on public property is strictly forbidden and considered vandalism. The city allocates ISK 20 million (USD 175,000, EUR 156,000) annually for its removal from city buildings, benches, light posts, and such. City officials also encourage residents to file charges against those who are caught spray-painting residential property. That way, police can issue a fine.

Street art, however, is always created with the approval of home or building owners. Oftentimes, it is commissioned by certain organizations. The music festival Iceland Airwaves is, for example, currently working in cooperation with Urban Nation (the Berlin museum for urban contemporary art) and others to have an international group of artists decorate ten walls in Reykjavík, inspired by themes from the festival. The project, labeled Wall Poetry, is intended to connect creative minds from all over the world and encourage artistic and creative exchange beyond the gallery or recording studio.

VH

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