How far can a wrecked car move in a car-free city? Ed D’Souza’s project for osloBIENNALENis ‘Migrant Car’, a sculpture in which a three-dimensional photograph of a crashed car reproduced in full size is wrapped around a wooden framework built in a joiner’s workshop at Markveien. The ‘car’ is rolled about to different places in Oslo. The photograph of the crashed car was taken in Delhi, India, where the artist found the abandoned wreck. The car is a Hindustan Ambassador, a model in production from 1958 to 2014, which was the car in India, popular as taxi, as status symbol, in time becoming a people’s car. Notorious for its bad brakes, many of them ended up as wrecks in a country famous for the rampant growth of its traffic and car culture. Motoring is a global phenomenon, but the cultures surrounding it vary. In Oslo there is now a political majority in favor of a traffic-free centre, involving the disappearance of private cars from the city streets. There are many borders in the world that cannot be crossed by car because of power struggles and political manoeuvres. Maybe this car brought from elsewhere will remind us of this.
‘Migrant Car’ is a co-production between Ed D’Souza, Eddie King’s Furniture and Upholstery workshop in Oslo, and students from Oslo Metropolitan University and the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. The following students is involved in the project: Maiken Astrup Helland, Camilla Dahl, Tiril Flom, Andrea Galiazzo, Milagros Gola Singh, Ingrid Granrud Veiersted, Darina Gryn, Julie Henning, Marielle Kalldal, Ronny Karlsen, Eddie King, Åshild Kristensen Foss, Geir Listhaug, Carina Marwell Hansen, Ken Opprann, Kristian Rosskopf, Karoline Sjølie Aas, Taradol Sutjaritvorakul, Qi Tan, Victoria K. Yankova, Idunn Yr Alman-Kaas, Amanda Aas Andersen, Asle Olsen.
CAR-FREE CITY LIFE is a programme run by Oslo City Council’s Urban Environment Authority, and aims at environmental improvement in the centre of Oslo. The programme sets out to make certain areas of the centre car-free, so that the city becomes more accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and the disabled. Another important target is to create meeting places in the city and to activate hidden urban spaces. The programme intends to support necessary city logistics and to strengthen public transport, while prioritizing street life and ‘soft traffic’ over private motor transport.
The artwork End of Empire within the programme of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale has been recommissioned for osloBIENNALEN where it has now been re-imagined and re-purposed as ‘Migrant Car’. In osloBIENNALEN the sculpture has been rebuilt in public at Eddie King’s upholstery workshop in the Grünerløkka area. This first part of the project was to build the sculpture within a situation of social engagement by collaborating closely with local craftsmen and the local community. After ‘Migrant Car’ was built it was launched in a street party and street parade to take it to the Biennial Offices for its launch.
It is now journeying around the city acting as a catalyst for other collaborations with local situations and events that encompass a visit to Oslo Cathedral where services about refugees and migrants have been held and to Oslo’s Pride march both hosting the project and connecting with ideas of welcoming difference. Students from local Universities KHiO and OsloMet have developed projects in discussion with the artist and they will be moving the car over a three-month period to give new meanings to the locality understood by revealing ideas and stories of migration through public encounters, interventions and performances. The sculpture will also give an opportunity in a reflexive and critical role in terms of a dialogue in the city questioning assumptions of how public artworks and audiences might engage in public space through a large-scale event such as a Biennial. The project will end in Oslo in mid-August with an event at Vippa where curated music, workshops and a final project seminar with the many participants, collaborators and interested parties will meet together to debate and discuss the project.
Oslo Biennial will be unique in the fact that all the commissioned artworks will be dealing with public space and Rina Mariann Hansen, Oslo’s vice mayor of culture and sport, said. “By unfolding in public spaces, the biennial will activate the city and merge with its daily life in a way that will inspire and challenge both the art and its audiences.”