The statues around Reykjavík are depressing, simple, gorgeous, inspiring.

March 26th, 2013, 10am

There are statues sprinkled around the city of Reykjavík — a variety of artists are represented, and a variety of themes.

Some are what you would expect — the typical range of long-dead politicians or famous historical figures from the area — while others are less predictable — stylized peasants carrying buckets, or abstract, geometric pieces, made of materials from the local mountains combined with that of sister cities, representing collaboration and brotherhood.

My favorites are the stark, minimal, somewhat-depressing pieces you can find off in spare corners, or in the middle of pedestrian plazas from one end of the city to the other. These are pieces that, upon first impression, feel somewhat sad and mopey. The figures represented have their implied eyes tilted downcast, and their posture hints at some great weight they carry; some substantial burden that hunches their shoulders and brings ache to their neck.

Yet these statues are rugged; hearty. They stand sentinel year-round, time callousing their skin against the sometimes harsh weather conditions, while that same tough shell allows them to shine in the sunlight. They survive the world — even thrive within it! — without needing to be above it.

I have to admit these statues satiate some kind of human need to experience depression without wanting to fully experience everything that word brings with it. Note the sad songs, dramadies, and most notable of literature throughout human history, and you’ll see that we find it difficult to go long without some hint of emotionally bitter seasoning to emphasize the sweet.

When I see these statues and briefly empathize with their suffering, it perks me up. Makes me happy that they bear that burden for me. They allow me to ever-so-briefly relate without needing to actually relate in that moment.

Johanna and Cassie said thanks.

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Colin Wright

Author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler / I move to a new country every four months based on the votes of my readers / My work ( / My blog ( / My publishing company (

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