Iceland: What is up with that place?

Posted by Bel. The time is 5.14pm here in Wellington NZ

Iceland. Land of - no, not ice! Well, okay, some ice. But of many other things too.

Only about 320,000 people though, which is smaller than the Wellington region. And yet, I would dare say, it is much better than Wellington. This tiny nation has managed to punch far above its weight in many categories.

1. Music

This is the obvious one. Only people who have been living under a rock and don't have ears or the rock they're under makes it hard to hear are yet to realise that Bjork comes from Iceland. Her full name is Björk Guðmundsdóttir, and yes I googled and then copied and pasted that, as everyone has done since she first pixified her way onto the scene many a year ago.

Moving from a punk rock background to become one of the most successful female solo artists in the world, even those who don't enjoy her music have to concede Bjork is a creative force to be reckoned with.

I love Bjork and I cried with excitement in front of ten of thousands of impatient Rage Against The Machine fans when she performed second-to-last at the Big Day Out in 2008.

Recently Iceland has also attracted attention from musos thanks to the band Sigur Ros. Some people pronounce this "sigga ross", others "sayer rose". I like to pronounce it "oh those guys" with a roll of my eyes.

They play a style of music known as "post-rock" with songs that go on for about as long as it takes a glacier to form - and the kicker is that all the lyrics are sung in a language THEY MADE UP THEMSELVES. As if Icelandic didn't sound kooky enough as it is! (Racist.)

People tend to really, really love Sigur Ros. Apparently they are "amazing" live. Don't get a Sigur Ros fan started on how "amazing" Sigur Ros are live. *rolls eyes*

Here is one of their videos (please set aside the majority of the rest of your life to watch this). I will give them credit for creating an incredibly powerful short film within the context of this music video!

Sigur Rós - Viðrar vel til loftárása

2. Jewellery

Check out this growing jewellery made by a Icelandic designer:

via [If it's hip, it's here]

3. Head of State

Firstly, let me clarify by saying that I loved Helen and I miss her and I think New Zealand as a country achieved much mature growth by electing a female leader.

But Iceland had a female president back in the 80s! And their current prime minister is not only a female, but also a (wait for it) lesbian (gasp!). In terms of being progressive and smashing through the glass ceiling, this is inspirational.

New Zealand has found itself with a government that is continuing to demonstrate its anti-women policies in more and more terrifying ways. Gordon Campbell has written about it here - well worth reading. And let's keep an eye on countries who are instilling the feminist principles of equality into their legislation.

4. Giant freaky pylon things

Would you or would you not totally pee your pants if you were driving along and you came across these? I think they would be perfect for the Desert Highway.

Concept design dreamed up by some architectural firm with too much time on their hands, for the haunting barren wilderness of Iceland. Awesome.

via [Laughing Squid]

4. Volcano/ Economic Crisis

I actually nearly forgot! They had that volcano that totally fucked things up for the whole world! And their economy is screwed. All three (three!) of their banks collapsed. Fuuuuck. Wikipedia says that "Iceland's external debt was 9.553 trillion Icelandic krónur". That sounds really bad.

Gosh well don't I just feel awful now with my "ooh pretty jewellery" and all.

Iceland! We salute you!

4 thoughts on “Iceland: What is up with that place?”

  1. This chick is Icelandic... or half, and ginger to boot! Oh and precocious and fashion forward and only 16... sigh.

    (please note also the word I had to type in was BOACED - whoop!)

  2. Hah, she is too! And 16?! Sheesh, I hadn't realised that.

    I did begin on a Fashion section for this post, but then realised I was thinking of that 'Helsinki Looks' website, which is Finland apparently - oopsies!!

  3. Confession: when the Iceland banking collapse happened, I thought the UK media was meaning Iceland (the budget supermarket brand) had a bank that had collapsed (as Tesco has banking and Everything Else In The Whole World on their portfolio so I thought Iceland did too). Then when at work they were talking about Iceland (the budget supermarket brand) sponsoring one of our big shows I thought they meant Iceland (the country). Dumbie!!