Confessions of a Volkswagen
Prosjektrom Normanns, Stavanger
Installation, photo projections
In a dark room, two sculptures shaped like the hood of a Volkswagen Beetle are mounted on a mountain range. The sculptures projects pictures from the past. From a time when the Beetle dominated the streets, on journeys in Norway, to Iceland and on the European continent. Common for all the pictures are the presence of a Beetle, all people are erased. Two stories are told, one of a red Beetle, and one of a grey one, exactly like the color of the sculptures.
Here is the love of design, nostalgia, the joy of recognizing places. And at the same time a view on the car's importance, about how a story is told, and recycling.
Nils-Thomas Økland got hold of a collection of diapositives. Flicking through them he discovered that many contained a red or a grey Beetle, often dominating the picture, sometimes more in the background. He put these pictures together in two series, one red and one grey. All human faces were painted over. The projectors were built into shells resembling the design and shapes of Beetles, even painted in original colors.
Now Beetles are rather few, but in those days they were in absolute majority. Volkswagen was the people's wagon. A car was not only a mean of transport, it was the symbol of freedom, no borders, holiday and fun. The car was an important part of their lives, that is why it is so often photographed. Here is a lot of nostalgic feelings for us who grew up with a Beetle.
This is not the story of the owners and their travels. This is the story of two Beetles and their travels. Only stories important for the car are included, all other are excluded. Even the people are not important, they are redused to props. In contrast to the other story-telling Beetles like Herbie and Pelle Policecar, this story is fragmented and offer no other red line than the protagonist and the era when they existed.
This is also a recycling of memories. Watching other people's holiday pictures can be hopelessly boring, especially when you do not even know them. But in this setting no story is told, you have to make it yourself. Other people's stories (or rather the cars' stories) become your story. Memories are recycled just like the positive feelings for the "old VW Beetle" lead to high sales for the "new VW Beetle".
But as Volkswagen are trying to recollect the positive feelings of the original Beetle in a new wrapping, Økland is creating something new with its own value. His sculptures are based on the feelings, shapes and colors of the car. But he creates objects with a different function. They are still vessels for transport, not physical transport, but travelling by mind. And the sculptures have their own beauty in their rounded shapes and shine.