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“Not a Terrorist”

from Sunday, November2nd of the year2008.

The big financial news in the UK is all about Iceland. Essentially, Iceland had a bank in England that had these accounts called IceSave. When everything went backwards last month, a lot of English people lost a lot of money. Also, a shit-ton of Icelandic people lost a lot of money. Iceland’s argument is that essentially they need time to be able to make good on paying the insurance on foreign accounts. The best account of this that I’ve read is John Carlin’s article in the Guardian. The most interesting part of this, for me, is the following few paragraphs about women and their role in the whole situation:

‘The last four years I’d been watching, incredulous, the screaming gap between the reigning model of investment and what ought to have been the sensible reality. Everything short-term, without taking into account the social consequences; betting on huge profits without seriously evaluating the risks; a shocking excess in the bonus payments to executives; and, shaping everything, a classically masculine way of doing things.’

Women in Iceland, as elsewhere, are generally more practical than men, they have their feet more squarely on the ground and they study the consequences of the risks they take with greater diligence, says Tomasdottir, who on the week I was in Reykjavik gave a speech on the subject that was received with almost evangelical excitement by the 100 influential women present. Among them was Oddny Sturludottir, a Reykjavik city councillor, who emerged from the meeting eyes blazing.

‘We are all furious in Iceland but women especially so,’ she said. ‘We trusted the men at the helm and now we feel fooled, and totally convinced that if it had been women in charge we wouldn’t be owing all these billions right now. They talk about the Viking model! What is the Viking model? Rapists and robbers! That’s no model for the 21st century.’

Now, in case you’re all wondering why you’re not named Oddný Sturludóttir, it’s because your dad’s name isn’t “Sturla.” This is one of those irregular Icelandic proper nouns, where it’s a feminine name that’s given only to boys. I have a friend Sturla; he claims that even his grade school teacher couldn’t decline his name right. He goes by “Mío,” which is great because you don’t have to do much to that. Just a li’l grammatical aside.

So, anyway, what happened is that Gordon Brown declared Iceland to be, like, a terrorist nation so that he could freeze their assets; this is possible under those post September 11th terror laws (hryðjuverkavarnarlögum, shhhh). Icelandic people freaked the fuck on out, and put up this website which shows them holding up signs saying that they Я not a terrorist. What’s gorgeous about this website is the way it shows a lot of family situations, and a lot of the little ice tchotchkes in the living rooms etc. It’s sort of like an accidental Material World or something. Some of my favorites:

1. I can has órþópídic brace?

2. Happý Familý

3. Painting

4. Figureenz

5. Even Happier Family

6. Design Firm

7. Oh my god somebody need to get this heifer a translation job.

8. Mm-hmm. At Tha Beach House.

9. Is that a halo on the left and a frying pan on the right? What are any of those objects in the background? Where are we? Are we in somebody’s mom’s house?

10. This little boy totally has “L.A. Hair”

11. Traditional Sweater

12. Shoemaker

13. Ginger

Anyway, I find the whole thing completely fascinating. I’m not going back there until late November, by which point I think the frenzy will have calmed down and it’ll be more clear what, exactly, is going on and what can be done about it.


  • those people look guilty to me

  • I think that the difficulty has more to do with the naming of the law than with the Icelanders being terrorists. They should have named it something like “Public Safety Act (2008)”.

    Never met an Icelander (to my knowledge) but I’m sure that Icelandic terrorists are few and far between.

  • That looks suspiciously like a Teddy Ruxpin in #2

  • Chris is right – it was a bit of a catch-all law, even though it had to be applied. No-one actually said those lovely people (well, the non-bankers) were terrorists. But it’s spawned some fun photos. I do think that Gillian Wearing, whose classic ‘Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say'(Interim Art, 1997), should copyright her idea.

    The Icelanders I know have all cooled down about this.

    Anyway, thank you too for the potato-up-bum-of-naked-vicar link: what are we Brits like? Doesn’t that sort of thing happen in America?

  • Don’t miss St. Bride Library (typography, graphic arts) if you have some spare time.

  • 11/05 Hope you found a dance partner in the streets–there is much rejoicing stateside!!! Spontaneous erruptions of modern dance EVERYWHERE.
    Bliss. . .

  • you need to work w/ dj/rupture! get in contact w/ him! he talked abt you on pitchfork today

  • I have to say, yours is the most beautiful website I have ever seen Nico. Congratulations on the restoration of hope yesterday by the way.

  • I love this article, but, um, what’s up with #7? The heifer? A translation job?