five months after the first border thread was produced by Syrian women in Mersin Turkey we were ready for the final workshops in Oslo where we sew everything together and covered up the mc. Friday and Saturday mid august we sat down inside the big warehouse (now a foodhall) by the harbour and mounted together the “threads”. Many of the people that work at Vippa have middle eastern origins, some of them refugees. We had good conversations about the content, about the border stories and several people joined the workshop. Many of the pieces are in Arabic and got translated during our conversations,. The pieces in themselves became a reason to talk together and to exchange reflections across cultures. In the end we covered up the mc before the finnisage event.
Meeting Place, a project produced by Daryna Grin was presenting today at Egertorget aka Stortinget. Daryna and Qi invited the public to discuss the meaning of Egertorget as a social meetingspot and gave reason to articulate the need of both creating and perserving places in the city. Below shows some of the encounters that took place during the day.
“There were many people who visited the project and interacted with us during this day. The public has communicated their vision of Egertorget as a meeting place, e.g. for politics, marketing and consumerism. As Paul, the employee of the Ipsos office which conducts public polls to improve the market, remarked that there are many cafes, restaurants, boutiques and shops.”
“Photographer John also noticed that the main purpose of this place is focused on consumption and additionally added that there is little space reserved for a more genuin cultural arena at Egertorget. John also argued that Egertorget had a certain political connotation. During party elections period like now everything is covered with billboards on Karl Johans Street.”
“Two people also interpreted Migrant Car as a protest against too much traffic in the city centre and the lack of space for pedestrians. Maud thought that I was a representative of some political party and asked what the party was called to vote for it! It was also an evangelist who complained about the traffic in the centre.”
“There were many tourists passing by. Many travelled together with their families, e.g. a family from the UK, or a family from Hungary who had to move to Romania. They had been travelling for two weeks and had just arrived from Sweden. There were also a lot of Norwegian families stopping by the have a chat. The family with African roots particularly loved the Migrant Car. The family had a great time interacting with the car and told us they regretted that they were not able to come here on August 15th again, as they were going to Nairobi for the holiday.”
“We also met many passersby with foreign ancestry, e.g. Pakistan and India. On the same day the Mela festival (which means meeting) was celebrating art, culture and food near the Cityhall. Volonteers from an Indian restaurant at the festival handed out free Indian food samples along Karl Johan Street.”
As Migrant Car is being part of the public space the risk of getting injured is high. On the last day of Green Room, Migrant Car was presented with some defects as we have seen earlier this summer.
“Today was the last day of Green Room and when we arrived at Fridtjof Nansens plass the car had been moved, the sign was stolen and the wheel lock laid broken on the hood. The car had a little damage on the left back side, but other than that the car was in good shape.”
As a result of Green Room, the producers has been lucky to meet a lot of people sharing their stories to one another and also it gives a good reason to reflect upon how we produce public space in manner to create social and cultural encounters.
“We feel so lucky to have met and spoken to so many interesting people from all over the world, right here at Fridtjof Nansens plass where we have parked together with the Migrant Car. Imagine how many interesting conversations we miss out on a daily basis, and all of the people we pass by and know nothing about. We have shared and learned through these last days with all the people we have met through this project. We are looking forward to follow the Migrant Car as it takes its last stop in Oslo at Vippa. Thank you to everyone who has participated and made this so special!”
Third day of Green Room was met by political initiatives related to climate change and green improvements and newly engaged couples. What a day!
“As we were pulling up at Fridtjof Nansens plass, we were stopped by Klimabrølet advocates. They asked us to make a video were they got a lift with the Migrant Car, promoting green travelling. When we arrived in front of the City Hall, politician Espen Barth Eide from The Labour Party walked by and agreed to do a short interview regarding environmental issues, sitting on top of the Migrant Car.”
As Green Room continued during the next hours, it was as usual plenty of people that joined the open table-conversations. It was on time that also a newly married couple joined in after getting engaged in the local City Hall next to Fridtjof Nansens plass.
The second day of Green Room was filled with summerheat. Green Room mediators got the chance to join in and experienced the project from a closer perspective joining the other participants for an intimate conversation about memories.
“We had a bit of a slow start today. Perhaps because of the hot summer weather and people seeking shade. It seems like it’s easier for people to get involved when there’s already people at the tables. But after the first couple participated a few more tagged along. Many sat for a long time enjoying each others company. We even had three tables answering all the 25 questions, and one couple answered all except one. It was the following question; what is your most valuable memory and what is the worst? We made a short interview with these two participants where we talked about their experience of Green Room. There was quite a few single participants who wanted to partake in the project, so we joined in. It was very rewarding for us to experience Green Room first hand not only as mediators but as participants.”
Having been part of Migrant Car as it moves around in certain areas at certain times and mapping Oslo by night the production of space has been a main factor for ReMapping. The action of moving within and mapping the city area of Oslo brings new reflections upon the theory of space and drifting once explained by Henri Lebvfre and Guy Debord – What makes a public space a public space? How does it produce itself and in what way can borders and social boundaries be challenged through aesthetics?
Green Room had a lovely first day at Fridtjof Nansens Plass yesterday. Handing out prescripted questions for anyone to join in over a cup of tea. Here Green Room met tourists, random passersby out on a citystroll, officeworkers out for lunch and the local police.
“A good selection of people were happy to participate and paired up over a cup of mint tea and asked each other our pre-written questions about values and traditions. It was such a nice experience to see the space transform, people coming together and taking time to listen to each other sharing their thoughts and stories”
What is the means of public space? And in what way will occupation of space become the very notion of emancipation?
During June, ReMapping has researched the means of using public space. By moving Migrant Car around the city centre of Oslo, ReMapping has purposed physical enquiries to articulate issues of space.
“For me it has been important to use the space as it was my own to desire. It is easy to think that oneself as much as anyone else has the right for the space in ones own city but the reality tells you that it is not like this. There are restrictions everywhere which oppresses the social bond. YOU CAN NOT BE HERE! YOU NEED TO MOVE NOW. WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE. YOU ARE PROHIBITED TO GO CLOSER.
“The city seems to constantly produce certain space that either invite you in on a special premise or simply leave you on the outside. Moving around with Migrant Car, I became in some way migrant to my own city. There were several encounters where I was surprised how much restriction that came in the way for social meeting. I think for some reason this resembles much of how this space in question is taken for granted (and in many situations, ref. social and cultural habits). By doing these small actions as moving and displacing oneself through the city made me understand that aesthetics is an important motivator to push the boundaries of what ‘public’ could and should stand for.”
Tomorrow Green Room will be holding their public mediation program at Fridtjof Nansens plass together with Migrant Car creating a popup meetingspot for passersby. Here you can dig into already-made questions about several intimate topics encouraging conversations with a friend or a stranger.
Green Room started out as a pilot project at OsloMet, trying to grasp the means of public space where Green Room challenges it by making room for personal stories and reflections that can be shared over a cup of tea.
Border Threads is preparing the background garment for the final piece out of a long period of collaborative work that has been done in countries in Europe and the Middle East. Border Threads discuss the topic of borders – What is it and in what way can art work against the physical borders that is still a hugh political as much as an aesthetic issue.
Border Threads hopes to see you at Vippetangen 16th and 17th of August. Come and be a part of an important work.