Björk is hosting a three-day karaoke to protest Magma Energy’s takeover of Iceland’s natural resources.
Iceland is in a bit of a mess. The Viking island stronghold was the first economy to implode and now its natural resources are being threatened, according to Björk, by Magma Energy’s takeover of Iceland’s geothermal and thermal energy producer HS Orka. Björk is striking out against the Vancouver-based corporation (instead of against a paparazzo).
And her weapon: a three-day karaoke she is hosting in Reykjavik to apply pressure to Iceland’s government (whose actions probably grew out of the country’s dire economic straits), urging Icelanders to sign a petition to force a referendum that would overturn HS Orka’s sale to Magma Energy.
And who is Björk calling on?
“Elves, hidden people, sports people, hobby musicians and professionals … everyone who cares for Iceland, come and join forces and perform a powerful ode to the nature of Iceland… Let’s bring our natural resources back to us with song.”
She has asked the Icelandic people to come to the event, hosted at the Nordic House and other venues, and sing their favorite songs as an act of protest. On the opening night this past Thursday, Björk sang a duet with Icelandic environmentalist Ómar Ragnarsson.
In keeping with the theme of elves and hidden people, Björk noted that the date of Threttándinn was chosen specifically for its magical association. In Icelandic folklore, Threttándinn is a magical holiday when elves, fairies and other hidden people emerge from the hidden realms and party with human beings.
Iceland is heavily dependent on geothermal energy as the island lies on the Mid-Atlantic range, a hotbed of volcanic activity and hot springs. This renewable energy is harnessed and combined with hydroelectric power to heat and power the island’s homes and industries.
Magma Energy had previously owned 46% of HS Orka’s stocks before the sale. Magma then bought the 52% stock owned by Geyser Green Energy, with 2% ownership remaining for Iceland—effectively giving Magma 98% ownership and control of Iceland’s third largest geothermal energy company for 65-130 years.
Magma did this by circumventing Iceland’s rules barring non-European Economic Area countries from purchasing natural resource assets. The sale was carried out by Iceland’s Independent Party, led at the time by Geir Haarde who has been indicted for misconduct while in office and will stand trial. Haarde accepted controversial donations from FL Group, an investment firm, and Landsbanki.
Björk hopes that with the karaoke protest, and the help of elves and hidden people, she can raise the number of petition signatures from 28,000 to 35,000, a number which she and others believe will be hard to ignore.
Will the elves and hidden people sign the petition themselves? Is this legal? Or will they simply influence others to do so?
We must wait and see.
[Update: the event managed to gather about 45,000 signatures.]