Reykjavik Street Art

Inside the Heart Park: The Gallery Reykjavik Once Had

Dante Scarano

Dante Scarano

Dante Scarano is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (USA).
Read more about Dante here.
Dante Scarano

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The year was 2008, Iceland was plunged into bankruptcy by it’s major banks (sound familiar?) creating the largest economic depression in history.  Major businesses pulled away from the island nation, and the thoughts of entering the Eurozone quickly faded to black.  It was a dark time for the country, and citizens began to wonder if the economy would ever rise.

However, there was one glimmer of hope and free expression that arose from the darkness of this crisis.  Enter the Heart Park, or as the locals call it the Hjartatorg in Reykjavik.  Before the crisis it was a vacant lot which would have eventually been turned into some type of a cookie-cutter hotel.  Following the economic recession, the project was quickly abandoned and the residents of Reykjavik were left with and empty lot… or a blank canvas.

Artists quickly realized that this was their chance to express themselves.  Working tirelessly to create these giant murals to color an otherwise grim city backdrop.  In the Summer the park became filled with bands, skaters, and artists all breathing a new life into this once desolate lot.

A wonderful fusion of Nordic tradition and the ‘1980’s New York City’.

The Heart Park was blossoming into a beautiful hip-hop butterfly.  What started out as a vacant lot soon turned into a gallery for street art, and the park itself became a work of art.

With the help of the Tourism industry, in 2011 the Icelandic economy started rising.  People from all over the world flocked to Iceland to view an otherworldly landscape.  The influx of travelers from all over the globe meant every lot and empty space were now prime real estate.  While an amazing turn of events for Iceland as a nation, it was almost a bitter sweet ending for those who frequented the Heart Park.

Sadly in 2013, to create more room for a new hotel project, the park was torn down and the murals painted over.  A true symbol of social injustice, as the countless hours put into these masterpieces of art were wiped at the hands of hotel contractors.  The last way to view the park, outside of photos is through an outdated Google Maps picture, but that too will be gone soon.  The memory of the Heart Park will live on, through pictures and personal experiences.  The shinning ray of light of how people could come together and create beautiful art, amidst the Icelandic depression.

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