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Iceland: The bubbles that burst

In 2008, the illusion of a strong Icelandic economy burst. In April, the people were betrayed by the state leadership, again.


Austvöllur, 13. April. The place is full of people. Large soap bubbles hover over them. In front of Allthingi, a man demonstrates a completely silent, blowing big bubble from a bucket of soapy water.

First the illusion that Icelanders were world champions in finance burst, before the economy melted and ran out with the river water from Vatnajökull. Confidence in the governing authorities broke down. Now it broke again. In Panama Papira, it emerges that the recently departed Prime Minister of Iceland has great value in tax havens. First he leaves. Soon it emerged that the finance minister also has pigs in the forest in tax havens. The battle now stands on the departure of the Minister of Finance. As well as making this kind of investment illegal for politicians. These are the heart issues of the new prime minister: the farmer, the veterinarian and the father-in-law who lives on his garden south of the island, only a few miles from the volcanic eruption that happened not long after the financial crisis.

"First as a tragedy, then as a farce." I used the Marx quote about the local election in Iceland in 2010. The reference is to the ancient Greek drama. There the gods die a tragic death. The audience likes it badly. They think it is too sad, and demanded that the gods must die again. But now it must be a comical death.

Back to November 2008. Iceland is bankrupt. It happens overnight. People wake up, straight found. Adrenaline mobilizes into action. They take what they find: utensils, utensils, and go out: They find the people in the same situation.

The cashier revolution ends with the government going. The Icelanders must have a new one. Iceland is truly not embarrassing. The country is a source of events: absurd, witty, horrible, unfaithful. Once upon a time, I was sitting ashore shallow volcanic eruptions.

May 2010: I should be here for a while, should cover the local election. But then Eyjafjallajökull cheers an extra bite. I'm staying longer than planned. It could be lonely. But then there is a familiarity at the door: Andri Snær Magnason would still take a drive, one evening ride. It is a midsummer night, and still bright. Want to see Thingvellir? Andri asks. Seffis we shall see Thingvellir. But first, Andri should just show me some stuff. A small artist village by Alafoss. He parks outside the pool hall. Here the door is open. The time is soon midnight. Some rockers stand outside and smoke. Andri asks if Sigur Rós is here tonight. No, they say: Sigur Rós is touring. That's why they practice there. They will borrow the rehearsal room when Sigur Rós is on tour. I get myself a little tour through the room. A closed, dry-laid pool, where the bottom of the pool is covered with rugs. Drum battery and guitars, microphones and music stand. We soon drive on, to Thingvellir, to see the magnificent scenery, I think. But Andri drives off the road, up the hill, and shows me Björk's summer house. He doesn't drive all the way up, but the whispers are worse. You're a fan of Björk, aren't you? It's me.

Better days later well the people politicians are completely gone. To control the capital well the comedian and the absurdist poet Jon Gnarr. It looks like a farce, but it doesn't. Jon Gnarr is a good mayor. His list, The Best Party, does what they are supposed to do: sew for good and open schools, for children to come to school, and for sewing halls to be open and clean. The father waits. It goes one year and a half. I'm back in Iceland, and I'm in the absurd situation of drinking me full on President Olafur's champagne, home with him. Here I meet Andri again. He, too, sipping on presidential champagne. Getting so close to the President feels great to me.

Two years later, I'm here again. Now there is a new demonstration, an approach to "revolution", ie a gathering of people against the government. But people are not in the same way as they were eight years ago. The mind seems more villa, and the demonstration less graphic, more difficult to define. One such guy demonstrates with soap bubbles. With a big bucket of soapy water, he makes bubble upon bubble. They sail silently and clearly over the protesters. Unaffected by the hassles that hammer on oil barrels during them. The protesters will receive spring assistance. He is having a nice April in Reykjavik in 2016. The sun is high in the sky. The light is rid of, as it is so far north. The sun goes down abruptly too, as in countries near the equator. Africa, Hallgrimur Helgasson writes this week: The Icelandic state is, like the young, African statues, barely fifty years old. No wonder we have political problems. It takes time to develop a functional democracy.

The demonstration ebbed out. The sun is on its way down. Police roll up plastic straps that protect Allthingi. I go to Bonús for ingredients for dinner: crush Lækjartorg, pass the national theater, and see a new collection of people. These are people in suits and ties. The state power, the cultural elite, politicians and others know the share. I know one thing very well. He stands on the stairs and is photographed. Andri Snær Magnason. I do not want to interfere with photography. Besides, there is a wall of people between him and me. Then everyone goes into the theater. Afterwards I read a new story on the internet: Andri Snær Magnason announced tonight that he runs for president of Iceland. And the cases he goes to election with and on? Climate and nature protection. Climate change was a hot topic, also in Iceland. Until paper from Panama.

What did they learn? Being able to see the humor in the whole. After all, they themselves have elected their politicians.

At Austurvöllur the air is still full of soap bubbles. The soap bubbles burst. Just like the confidence the Icelanders had of their new prime minister. He who turned out to have cheated money in tax havens. The other bubble burst as well. Just like believing that the Icelandic state and Icelanders were rich. On November 8, 2008, it turned out that the good economy was a lie, that saving money for Icelanders was not found. That they were not wealthy at all, but on the contrary: They were in endless debt.

I am actually in Reykjavik to write about other than politics. Director Jon Tombre and I make theater – but not a gimmick of politics. Not the absurd theater of social games. No, we're writing about Strindberg It's a dream game. I rewrite the play to the present, and use interviews as basic material. It's about modern Norwegian teenagers' dreams. Now we see what happens to the text in another Nordic country. But Iceland's model turns out to be far from the Nordic one. The theater that takes place in Iceland is rather similar to the ancient Greek. Until 2008, economists and financiers were like gods in Iceland. It was said that they were the best in the world in economics. But November 2008 killed the idea of ​​the finance god; the heroes turned out to be villains. The Icelanders promised themselves to choose better tenants. They got new tenants – but are again betrayed by the shop stewards. "How could we be fooled again?" asks Hallgrimur in his article. What have they learned? To be able to see the humor in the whole. Not least have self-irony. They themselves have chosen their politicians.

The sky is clear. Breathe sharply. Sun rolls along the ridge. The temperature drops. The sun is suddenly gone, and for the longest time past the equator. Here I have to move myself to find warmth. The unstoppable heat comes from the earth, and to the surface in Vesturbæjarlaug. The pool kept up to bed. earnestly. The outdoor pool steams. It smells autumn, in April; route, but instantly fresh, natural, straight. The drumming from Allthingi is right through the steam, like the pulse of a large animal. It is not to be joked with, the temper of the smoky Vikings. Maybe that's why it is the finest pool for another two kilometers in Reykjavik. The hot tub is exciting to man. The hot water takes away all the hurt. The shoulders lower, the senses open, and the globe feels like the world's best friend. Infinitely strong, but willing to be tame. There is more than one can say about certain people who come to positions of power – in Iceland but also elsewhere in the world.

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