WHITE NIGHTS IN TRONDHEIM
The city, by definition, is a being in continuous movement. I'm not only talking about people that evidently move, cars that
run through the city streets, buildings that appear or disappear, neighbourhoods changing their purposes, or populations
displacing others. I'm also thinking about how the ways in which we perceive the city transform it. In the construction of a
public space, in its ongoing dispute, there is a memory and a future. In this task, in the construction of a shared space,
images play a crucial role. Moving images, images of power, images that propose new ideas, images of resistance,
images depicting customs and lifestyles, dirty images, plump, radiant, noisy, boring or rowdy. Some images build
imaginaries, but only a few are recorded in our memory. And imaginaries not only embody our perception of the city, they also build it.
I came to Trondheim invited by Trygve and Charlotte, tireless members of the RAKE project. Upon arrival, I was offered a
tremendous gift: a good deal of films made by students of this city. As you know, the people of Trondheim are mostly
students: either actual students, or former or prospective ones. The University occupies nearly half the town's area. And
Trondheim's university students always organize a big party, the UKA. This party is so important that since the 20s, films
have been produced to promote it and construe a collective memory. What these films show is that, with this excuse,
students literally occupy the city streets. All films have a similar structure. In first place, we see a parade, where the
different university departments pass by branding all sorts of banners, as well as para-theatrical constructions, mostly
accompanied by slogans and other writings: tramways, trains, boats, cars, rockets, sputniks, atomic bombs, robots,
hospitals, monsters, television aerials or chemical laboratories, highways and trolls, among others.
These student parades, that took place between the 20s and the late 80s, bequeath us some clues of this period. This
finally forms a collection of outspoken icons, some celebratory, others sarcastic, which often openly bespeak conflict.
What strikes the most is their force, being real crowd-pullers. Thousands of people flocked to watch these quite
rudimentary parades, no matter whether under the sun or the snow. Compared to the present ways of doing, these
methods appear really archaic: to walk around the town carrying shoddily made objects and being marvelled by all this.
Perhaps the question now would be: after leaving the streets, would it not be time to win them back and inhabit the
desert? Isn't it time for those who have an idea of community, to deploy it, to weigh it and to make it visible to the entire
city? Isn't the Svartlamon district a project of a different kind of city? In recent weeks we tested these questions. We tried
to create new images, using these former practices as a pretext.
In the same city of Trondheim, between the highway and the sea, there is this 3-storey wooden tower with a staircase to
its top. Sjobaden bathers like strong emotions, experiencing at the city limits with the limits of their own bodies. Bathing in
cold water, crashing their skeletons from very high or sunbathing their whole bodies. These practices have become a
tradition, several generations spending their time in the vicinity of this tower. Sjobaden bathers have come to develop a
sophisticated alphabet of gestures and signs, only revealed to a few.
There is also a parking lot built in the cheerful 60s, a small cathedral of the modernistic religion, condemned to demolition.
In its slumber it still filters efficiently the light over the rectangular plots. RAKE's proposal is to open its doors to the people
so as to show that it could be used in many different ways. For my part, I contributed some images. I believe that the
RAKE people and their friends are changing the city.
Trondheim, August, 2014.