I wandered into the Reykjavik City Hall almost by mistake. I’d been walking along the shore of the Tjornin, a shallow body of water that everyone calls “The Pond,” when I came to a long bridge. On the other side sat a building that was the epitome of architectural minimalism, if not downright Brutalism. Curious, I stepped inside and discovered I was in the Reykjavik City Hall. Despite being the seat of government, there were no guards in sight, no checkpoints, no security of any kind. Only an information counter, a cafe with a row of computers that provide free Internet access, and a sunken lobby with a grand topographical map of Iceland.
A kind woman in the lobby smiled when I asked about security. “There is none,” she explained. Our Mayor’s office is upstairs and both he and our President are often seen walking around town, unescorted.” In a world where terrorism is becoming more prevalent, this was mind-boggling to me. Just as astonishing was the collection of artworks hanging on the lobby walls. During a city walking tour later that week, I learned that one of the largest pieces represented an enormous vagina.