OnThursday Alessandro and co-host Taradol met at Grev Wedels plass. The car presented signs of intrusion, with broken door lock and beer cans and smoked cigarettes on the inside.
“We cleaned it up and started playing music from a little amplifier and the phone. First songs were from 1950s Hungary. With that soundtrack we started moving the car and the first stop was at Banken plass. There we attracted the attention of the restaurant customers, a group of tourists and people showing from the building windows. We then continued to Karl Johan which was full of people.”
“Moving with the car in the crowd while the music is playing it makes me feel like we are on a street parade with just one car though. We then stopped in front of Max Burgers by Stortinget T-Bane. There I was playing some vietnamse music when a guy called Tu approached us dancing. He’s really curious on why we play such music. It is from vietnam in the 70s and Tu tells me that he came to Norway 38 years ago, that’s his music from his youth in Saigon. He starts translating the lyrics to me, the songs talks about how much the singer misses her beloved one.”
Few minutes later a guy from Afghanistan approaches. He wants to make a movie of himself entering and going out from the car. He is with his wife and 3 months toddler. He is 22 years old and came to Norway in 2004. The guy requests a song that is playing, something very loud and contemporary from Afghanistan. Unfortunately YouTube could not remember what type of track it was, tells Alessandro.
“We then drove along the main street through Stortinget and through Rådhuset and down to the Pier. People are interacting a lot with us, dancing, walking along, asking questions, jumping on the car, requesting songs. We try to play music guessing the nationality of the people we find ourselves immersed in.”
Afghan, Syrian and Kurdish women painting and sowing their borders in a container in a refugeecamp on the docks in the Elefsinian Gulf. 30 degrees inside, 40 degrees outside. The women tell about memories from their Homeland, about hope for the future, about their hopeless situation. They used to work as a teacher, as a policewoman, at a beauty Salón. The workshop gives them a break and a place to talk. Their stories and their border pieces will travel with Border Threads back to Norway. As a gift they get 3 meter of textile to make clothes for themselves and their children.
As part of building the Migrant Bench, Taradol an exchange student at KiHO did research on a wellknown site for many people living in Oslo – Vaterlandsbrua/Olafiagangen at Grønland. As a foreigner, Taradol studied this place with new eyes and translated the visuals and the overall atmosphere in the area into a social sculpture.
Update from Border Threads in Lebanon – Connecting the project abroad by grasping new perspectives upon borders.
“The sunscreen in all kind if colours cover the Beirut Balcony. The screen becomes a border between inside and outside, between public and private. The women can feel the summer breeze running through their hair with the screen as their private shelter.”
By the time Migrant Car is making new encounters in Oslo, Border Threads is doing the same in Lebanon.
“Yesterday in Bekaa Valley I met the co-producers of Border Threads, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, neighbours; Syrian and Palestinian. I had a nice homecooked meal and a long talk about borders… Working with Border Threads project opens the mind and gives access to a communication plattform. When we work with the topics of borders we start to think about it in a different way. Borders are everywhere – not only physical but also in our minds and between people.”
Qi and her co-host moved the car nine different stops yesterday, including Freia, Stortorvet (tram station), Oslo Domkirke, Stortorvet Blomster, Lille Sumo, Norwegian brand store, 7/11, Grev Wedels Plass, Bankplassen. In the different stops, Qi wrote different poems in small neat cards which were related to the specific places.
“In front of Lille Sumo, I wrote a poem about Chengdu restaurant to describe that foreign cultures have been adapted to the local and it became a strange and funny phenomenon. Actually, the owner of this sushi restaurant is Chinese. So I ordered a diploma ice cream from this restaurant and exchanged my poem with the ice cream from the waiter.”
After several encounters in the street of Oslo center, Qi has found it severe to connect with passers-by. But once in a while it happens to give new meaning to the project, Qi herself and hopefully the public.
…All in all, most people would say no to participate before I explained what the project is about. But once I explained that this was an art project, their indifference changed to please. Especially three girls gave me warm hugs. Of course there were some people that did not care, but for me this is a valuable experience trying to connect with people.”
“I was talking to my brother on the phone earlier. And again, as we often do, we ended up talking about the very problem of being forced between several anticipations when it comes to gender and sexuality. And questions arose. Why do we people limit ourself to the normative notion of life? And for what cost do this diminish our own person?”
Celebrating Pride, reminds me once more the importance of articulating the freedom of love, the privilege of being true to oneself and the liberty of crossing borders where it is not only possible but needed. Yesterday, Oslo was indeed a lovely city to be in. The Pride parade continues to resemble the fights for equity that many of us go through to get beyond the already prescriptive landscape. By doing this together, remembering the past and working towards future we can challenge the anticipated standards and put it in a broader perspective.