Artist-activist ODEE – Oddur Eysteinn Friðriksson – is facing a legal battle with fishing company Samherji over the ‘We’re Sorry’ message he delivered earlier this year as part of an artwork – the focal point of which was a replica of Samherji’s official website, hosted on a UK domain.
‘This work is inspired by the notorious ‘Fishrot Files’ scandal revealed by WikiLeaks in collaboration with global media outlets in 2019,’ ODEE said, commenting that the site bore a bold ‘We’re Sorry’ as an apology and a symbolic gesture of contrition for Samherji’s alleged wrongdoings – which successfully duped some of the fishing industry media.
He stated that this thought-provoking artwork served as an apology from Iceland to Namibia for Samherji’s alleged malpractices.
‘It aimed to expose and satirise the company’s purported actions in Namibia, raising critical discussions about corporate responsibility and the power of art as a tool for socio-political commentary,’ he said in a statement.
Unsurprisingly, Samherji filed a case in the High Court in London against ODEE, citing copyright, trademark, and passing off violations. This resulted in an interim injunction, forcing the temporary take-down of the artwork website.
According to ODEE, these legal moves not only infringe his right to freedom of expression but also stifle the meaningful discourse the artwork has sparked.
‘The case has ignited significant cultural commentary and public debates on social media, raising questions about the intersection of corporate interests and artistic freedom,’ he stated.
Now he is rallying financial support through a crowdfunding initiative on CrowdJustice, setting an initial target of £50,000, to counter the interim injunction. He remains steadfast in his conviction that the lawsuit is an unfair attempt to suppress his freedom of expression and his endeavors to spotlight corporate responsibility.
ODEE commented that the allegations against Samherji, including corruption, bribery, and unlawful trading practices within the fishing industry, underline the importance and urgency of the artwork.
‘This case is an example of how art can challenge power and provoke change,’ ODEE said.
‘The overwhelming support I’ve received is a testament to people’s belief in freedom of speech and the importance of holding corporations accountable.’