Mar 21 2004
1 Comment

Umbrella Protest in Tate Modern, London

This historic action marks the beginning of Saving Iceland.



This was the message demonstrators at Tate Modern wanted to get across as Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s hugely successful ‘Weather Project’ exhibition – featuring a giant sun – came to an end.

The 25 demonstrators staged an “umbrella protest” against the ALCOA dam currently under construction in the Icelandic highlands which will see vast swathes of Europe’s last remaining wilderness flooded in 2006.

Interviewed in the Guardian newspaper on the 27/12/03 Olafur Eliasson himself stated that his “greatest fear is that US aluminium giant ALCOA is destroying the Icelandic highlands with the support of our government.”

The Icelandic government recently announced further plans for similar projects which, protesters say, will spoil much of Iceland’s world-famous pristine nature.

“The government want to turn Iceland into a heavy industry hell,” said one protester, Icelandic environmentalist Olafur Pall Sigurdsson. “These mega projects benefit nobody except the multinational companies who instigate and build them. ”

“This programme of building big dams in Iceland will drag us back into the 20th century when the rest of 21st century Europe and the US is busy dismantling environmentally unfriendly dams,” Sigurdsson went on.

Eco-tourism is the fastest growing sector in the Icelandic economy. To impose a programme of environmentally destructive hydro-powered heavy industry seems, is at the very least, short-sighted. For British protester Dr. David Gems it is quite simply “environmental vandalism”.

The action was reported on the front page of Morgunbladid, the main daily in Iceland. It was an unexpected slap in the face of the Icelandic government and re-invigorated a largely defeatist grassroots opposition to the heavy industrialisation of Iceland.

The demonstrators let strips of paper fall like rain from a balcony in the turbine hall of Tate Modern. These were some of the slogans inscribed on the strips and umbrellas:

Don’t let the sun go down on Iceland’s beautiful nature

Dam building in Iceland will drown Europe´s last great wilderness

Stop pristine Iceland being turned into heavy industry hell

Icelandic government – Pimps of nature

ALCOA: Environmental criminals

Boycott Barclays bank – Dam funders

Stop war on nature

No heavy industry hell

ALCOA! Hands off Iceland

Stop Kárahnjúkar dams

Icelandic government: Nature vandals

ALCOA: Dam vandals

Illvirkjun = Evil Energy

ALCOA out of Iceland

Iceland – Power mad

Damn your dams

One Response to “Umbrella Protest in Tate Modern, London”

  1. Paolo Prieri says:

    Dear friends,
    we are with you !

    Please visit our web site and our 23 yars struggle against an unnecessary large new railway in Susa Valley, Italy.

    Please join us in a global opposition visiting this site
    and participating to the 2nd Forum agaiuns Large Unnecessary Projects !

    With friendship,
    Paolo Prieri
    + 39 320 265 9560
    Paolo Prieri (occasionaly in the port of Reykjavik onboard Best Explorer sailing to the North West Passage)