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Reykjavķk Grapevine

The Reykjavík Grapevine
Issue 3 ? 2012
Creativity | Central
Since the local fish factory in 
Stöðvarfjörður closed down in 2005 
and its 32 employees lost their jobs, 
the eastern municipality of roughly 
200 people has faced a serious de-
cline. Like many of Iceland?s small 
towns, this community has faced a 
systematic shutdown of social ser-
vices, followed by large-scale de-
Designers Rósa Valtingojer and Zdenek 
Paták?who together form MupiMup, 
a design team focused on turning 
what usually is considered waste into 
functional products?have been work-
ing since 2010 on a project that might 
lead the town in a different direction. In 
collaboration with a few other parties, 
including a group of MA communica-
tion design students from the Central 
Saint Martins College of Art and Design 
in London, Rósa and Zdenek are in the 
midst of setting up a creative centre 
in the abandoned fish factory, which 
would have been torn down a few years 
ago if it weren?t for their enthusiasm. 
 ?On the one hand, the fish factory 
embodies Stöðvarfjörður's decline. Im-
mediately from the day it closed, this 
town started to go down,? Zdenek ex-
plains. ?On the other hand, however, it 
is Stöðvarfjörður's stronghold, a mas-
sive building located by the harbour at 
the centre of the village. So it is very 
The creative centre will house artist 
workshops, studio spaces, a museum, 
café and a market selling produce and 
local food products, thereby retaining 
some of its original purpose by sup-
porting the local fishing industry. With 
the help of their fellow handyman Al-
exander Smári Gjöveraa, Rósa and 
Zdenek are renovating the house with 
little to no money, planning to partly 
open this coming summer. In about 
four years time the centre should be 
fully operating with the clear aim of 
creating a platform for the increased 
self-sustainability and independence of 
the village. 
 Rósa, who has lived in Stöðvarfjörður 
for the biggest part of her life, says the 
village could just as well be wiped off 
the map if it doesn't sustain itself. ?It is 
expensive, within the system we live in, 
to keep small communities running and 
it is obviously not on the list of priori-
ties.? Zdenek, who moved there in 2007, 
says that due to the cutting of social 
services, inhabitants have to travel for 
basic needs such as groceries, bank 
and postal services. Recently, there 
have also been talks of closing down 
the village's elementary school. ?That 
makes this place less and less interest-
ing for people to come and live here, 
especially young people,? she says. 
 Why do they find it important to 
keep such a small village going? Ró-
sa's answer is simple and honest: ?It 
is amazing to live here. One's life is 
full of nature and endless space. Every 
house has a garden where one can, for 
instance, grow food,? she says with an 
underlying urge for more freedom than 
is possible in big cities. Zdenek agrees: 
?At this point, living in a place like this 
is more of a statement expressing the 
need for more freedom to be outside of 
the system.?
 The two describe their hometown as 
a suburb of Fjarðabyggð?a municipal-
ity made up of six nearby towns with 
Reyðarfjörður being the central town, 
not only containing the municipality's 
key offices and services but also an 
Alcoa aluminium smelter, which began 
operating in 2007. Its construction?
which was and remains a divisive deci-
sion amongst Icelanders?was original-
ly presented as a solution to population 
problems in the East. However, Rósa 
and Zdenek don?t see it that way. On 
the contrary, they see it as a part of a 
large-scale centralization, based on the 
merger of many small municipalities, 
where what is on the margins is con-
sidered less economical. ?The interests 
of Fjarðabyggð are not really flowering 
in Stöðvarfjörður. Everybody here feels 
it,? Zdenek says.
?People often want to come up with 
solutions for others,? Rósa says, refer-
ring to mega-scale projects like the 
smelter. In fact, Alcoa has funded a 
bulk of the area's cultural and educa-
tional projects, providing the company 
with an image of a ?life-saviour,? as 
Rósa phrases it. ?Our project's pure ad-
vantage is that we are living here and 
the project comes from our own needs, 
based on the potential of this place,? 
Zdenek says. ?You have to know your 
problems very well to come up with so-
lutions,? Rósa adds. 
 Finding solutions to problems 
seems to be the essence of Rósa and 
Zdenek's approach to design. ?Design 
is just a word,? Zdenek says. ?I mean, 
who is a designer?? Rósa elaborates, 
?Design is about solving problems.? 
They believe everybody has creative 
skills and that is what their project is 
about. ?It is based on the belief in the 
creative skills,? Zdenek explains. ?The 
project will provide a wide spectrum 
of creative options, from food to music 
and crafts.? In summary, Rósa says it 
touches on everything to do with cul-
ture. ?The possibilities are endless, and 
we are not going to limit them. The proj-
ect will be developing constantly,? she 
 And the problem they aim to solve is 
not only the above-stated one of small 
countryside towns declining. Operating 
on the same principles as MupiMup, 
the creative centre will also focus on 
minimizing waste, which will instead 
be used as material for something 
different. Already one could say that 
Rósa and Zdenek are, by taking over 
the abandoned fish factory, turning 
trash into something usable?an act fu-
elled by a vision perfectly described by 
handyman Alexander: ?We are taught 
to see things in the way we are told to 
see them. This project is about seeing 
through that image?to envision some-
thing different.?   
Once-abandoned fish factory becomes a problem-solving creative centre
Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson
Viktor Pétur Hannesson
Disclaimer: This is The Grapevine?s 
BAD ADvICE column. It?s where Nanna 
Árnadóttir answers questions from our 
readers about traversing the Icelandic 
cultural jungle. She is usually nice, but 
really rather bad at giving advice?
Dear Nanna,   
I?ve started casually seeing this Icelandic guy 
and every time we have sex it?s a struggle to 
get him to wear a condom. I admit sometimes 
I slip or cave in and we have sex without one. 
How do I make him wear one or at least like 
it more?   
Condomless in a Conundrum  
Dear Condomless in a Conunundrum,   
I have some bad news for you. You have 
contracted a crusty, pus-filled disease that?s 
camping out your vagina. Chlamydia rates in 
Iceland are very high because Icelandic men 
are too cheap to buy condoms. So it?s over 
for you. How about in the future you keep 
three condoms in your wallet? If you meet 
someone you want to have sex with, chances 
are you?ll do it twice, the third one you can 
keep in case you meet a walking penis or a 
sexy lamp post on the way home. Also start 
hiding condoms in places you know you?re 
going to have sex, like the toilet at Prikið or in 
the napkin dispenser at Bæjarins Bestu. You 
can?t make this guy like it, but just because 
you don?t like something doesn?t mean you 
won?t do it to get laid, just ask the ex I used 
to make wear my knickers on the outside of 
his trousers like a lacy superhero.   
You?re welcome.  
Dear Nanna,   
I?m an exchange student at the University of 
Iceland and since I got here I found myself 
drinking a lot. The other day I even blacked 
out. I?m a little nervous I might be developing 
a problem.
Drunk in 101   
Dear Drunk in 101,   
I have created a cocktail in your honour 
called Drunk in 101. It?s Brennivín mixed with 
Opal shots and malt and twelve cigarettes 
and a call to your ex girlfriend where you cry 
and then a fist fight with that Spanish guy 
at the end of the bar and some taking your 
pants off and wondering if you can get ac-
cess to porn on your iPhone. You can.    If you 
think you have a real problem though just 
check into rehab or go to an English speak-
ing AA meeting, Iceland has plenty quitter! 
Where did I put my beer?   
Got a question for Nanna and need some bad 
advice? Email nanna.arnadottir@gmail.com 
and you might get an answer published in the 
next issue of Grapevine. 
t Ask
Design is about 
solving problems

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