A huge piece of rock sits in front of the Alþingishús parliament building, barely heeded by tourists, with a black cone of a noticeable size calmly stuck atop it, cracking it in half. It bears a plaque that contains a quote from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, originally drafted by the Marquis de Lafayette during the French Revolution: “When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.”
Created by Spanish artist Santiego Sierra as a monument to civil disobedience, the design of this sculpture was inspired by a medieval tradition during the Inquisition, in which the condemned were forced to wear black cone-shaped hats as a sign of humiliation. Commemorating the so-called Kitchenware Revolution or the Pots and Pans Revolution, the monument caused a bit of controversy among city council members at the time of its installation.
The protests took place between 2009 and 2011 in the wake of the Icelandic financial crisis and the government’s poor handling of the situation, calling for the resignation of the right-wing Independence Party officials and for a new election. Considered the largest-scale protests in Icelandic history at the time, thousands of people gathered before the parliament and demanded changes to the old system.