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Icelandic Activist To Speak At Dunedin School Of Art

Media release – Otago Polytechnic
For immediate release, Thursday 21 March

Icelandic Activist To Speak At Dunedin School Of Art

Iceland democracy activist and artist Hordur Torfason will be speaking at Otago Polytechnic’s Dunedin School of Art on Wednesday the 27th of March, as part of a series of nationwide talks on modern democracy.

Well-practiced at stirring things up, Hordur stood up for gay rights in Iceland in the mid-seventies and found himself on the activist stage again when he inspired Icelandic people to take action after the country’s economic crash in 2008.

Peacefully, Hordur and the Icelandic people managed to achieve the resignation of the entire government. The Icelandic banks were nationalised at the start of this year, and two former senior bankers imprisoned. The Icelandic constitution was re-written by the people, some providing input via Facebook and Twitter.

The Icelandic economy has improved and two years later is performing better than the European Union. The International Monetary Fund and heavyweight economists agree that Iceland did the right thing. Nobel prize-winning economist Joe Stiglitz notes, “What Iceland did was right. It would have been wrong to burden future generations with the mistakes of the financial system.”

Hordur, who currently lectures on meta modern democracy in Europe, has received numerous awards for his enduring efforts as a human rights activist, including The Tupilak, from the Swedish Gay Organisation for outstanding contribution in the gay rights field in 1995 and 2009, and an award from the Icelandic Social Democratic Party for his courage, bravery and honesty in human right struggles in 2003.

“This is a tremendous honour and major coup for Otago Polytechnic and the Dunedin School of Art,” says Head of the Dunedin School of Art, Leoni Schmidt, who will be hosting the afternoon session.

“Mr. Hordur is a human rights pioneer and has proven that the people can indeed inspire and make change. I think we will all learn something from him.”

Hordur’s husband, architect Massimo Santanicchia, will also be speaking at the event with a focus on the importance to support a more responsive, integrated and holistic urbanism at a regional and governance level.

According to Santanicchia, small cities (less than 500,000 inhabitants) host fifty-two per cent of the world urban population, yet they are profoundly neglected in the urban studies field. This lecture focuses on the small city of Reykjavik (118,326 inhabitants), and investigates how the planning system is trying to build a new urban strategy away from the world city model which was adopted until the banking collapse of 2008.

The event is open to the public and will be held at the Dunedin School of Art at Otago Polytechnic (19 Riego Street, near the corner of Anzac and Albany) on Wednesday the 27th of March from 12.00pm-3:00pm in Room P152. Koha contributions will be welcome.

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