A Normal Day


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Reykjavík may be the weirdest town in the world outside of Glastonbury (the British town much loved as the last hippie stronghold, which is why it also hosts the infamous music festival). On just one Friday afternoon I was treated to so much: firstly an open-air photography exhibition in Austurvöllur, the square next to Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament. The photos are all by Ragnar Axelsson, the Morgunblaðið photographer who has been published all over the world and been named Press Photographer of the Year more than once. The exhibition chronicles some of the harsher elements of a dying lifestyle in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, and is truly fascinating.

Next to the exhibits on one side was a large group of nursery school children playing with a big parachute, and on the other side was a three-person theatre group. The interesting trio were performing something whereby the man narrated loudly and played guitar, while one of the women moved, danced, swirled and died repeatedly and the other woman, sat next to the man, was playing with a doll, a recorder and a plastic umbrella. The spectacle had drawn a small crowd who sat drinking cans of beer and looking bemused.

Just around the corner, on Pósthússtræti, a string quartet was adding a coincidental soundtrack to the proceedings.

Next, walking up Laugarvegur, I saw a couple stepping carefully along the pavement in wedding attire, holding a large floral arch aloft. A girl throwing rice and a young man playing a clarinet were close in tow. Strange though this undoubtedly was, it somehow seemed to fit.

That was until I saw the other group on the opposite side of the street, following some 10 metres behind:

Four people in black were carrying a ‘dead’ girl wearing a white dress high on a decorated stretcher. A cellist followed, being dragged along on a black plinth. She was (of course) sat atop a white satin throne…

While all of these events may have been unique, they are just examples of what you can expect to see on any given day during summertime in Reykjavík.

AE [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.