Brattørveita - Art Street Occupation: A Ceremony in the Making
A Ceremony in the Making - An Art and Common Space Project
It can be cruel walking home through the centre of Trondheim on a dark winter’s night. Cutting wind and biting cold sometimes force us into side alleys and back streets in search of some protection. During the day we barely notice these little streets, for instance Brattørveita, which is neither quite Brattørgata, one street down with its hotels and pubs, nor is it as obvious a thoroughfare as Fjordgata, a street above it. On into the night we rush for home, or somewhere else looking for a nachspiel; we are desperate for something more hospitable.
On the evening of Saturday 9th December 2017, Brattørveita will be offering hospitality. What can we expect? What might we ask of it?
In Homer’s Odyssey, whenever Ulysses arrived at an island he would ask: “are there bread eaters here?”, by which he meant, is there anybody here who might share bread with us? What links Brattørveita with Brattørgata, besides a couple of alleyways, is the old bakery, now a hotel. The yard at the back of the building, on this night, will be offering, gifts, stories and warmth – an exchange. Opposite, in another yard, there will be welcoming music. The length of the street, some hundred metres or so, will resound to the rhythm of a somewhat carnivalesque marching band – musical creatures of the night. Art will be found at the beginning of the street, in a gallery, and along its course. In a cellar, an old bread store now preserved deep in the new hotel, there will be a food event. The street will be opened-up.
There will be warmth, a hearth in the yard of the hotel, but still we perhaps dream of warmer climes. It is to the capital of Campagna, Italy, that we might go, although sadly only vicariously through a text by Walter Benjamin, for a wonderful example of a street opened-up. Benjamin, in his essay `Naples` marvels at the interaction of private and public, sacred and secular, which, through the tight, implicate architecture of the old town, spill into each other. There, as now here, buildings `are used as a popular stage`. He notes that: `They are all divided into innumerable, simultaneously animated theatres. Balcony, courtyard, window, gateway, staircase, roof are at the same time stages and boxes`. Hospitality, helped by architecture, is invariably performative. The performance of everyday life, in Naples, perhaps here also in Brattørveita, confines itself to neither public nor private: `Just as the living room reappears on the street, with chairs, hearth, and altar, so, only much more loudly, the street migrates into the living room. Even the poorest one is full of wax candles, biscuit saints …`
Will there be bread? In fundament at least. Campagna is so named after the Latin word campus, meaning `flat land`, `field`, or `open country`, and soldiers, or any large group of people who gather and campaign over such terrain, are a `company`. This word comes from companio, referring to friendship and intimacy (two staples of hospitality), but it also means `bread sharer`.
The title of this art event, A Ceremony in the Making, suggests ritual waiting to be activated in this neglected street. Streets need ceremony, some kind of smoky, enfleshed (in a phenomenological sense) communion of people to regularly fill the streets and courtyards. But what is perhaps more important is the processual part of this phrase: `in the making`. It is important that narratives retain their potential; remain situations not pre-determined by a script. Maybe some of what occurs on this windy, possibly snowy, but assuredly hospitable evening in Brattørveita will become ceremony, but for now the street will simply resonate with happenings.
The word `street` lacks warmth, and hopefully this event will put some coals beneath its logical functionality. It comes from the Latin verb sternere – to `lay-out`,` stretch`, `extend` or `pave`. For Benjamin, in one sense, streets are simply `asphalt`. They strive for flatness, but this night the street will stretch in another way, into the yards and buildings that pour off it and (will) feed it. Paved, unlike a `way`, streets were also referred to as `made roads`. Brattørveita, in some ways, is waiting to be made. Welcome all.