Magazine article Sculpture

Commissions

Magazine article Sculpture

Commissions

Article excerpt

Amy Franceschini and Futurefarmers

Flatbread Society

Oslo, Norway

Oslo's waterfront neighborhood of Bjorvika has seen some major changes in recent years. As in the case of other major urban ports (Washington, DC, comes to mind), free- ways built in the 1960s and '70s all but cut off the neighborhood from the rest of the city. An isolated shipping and industrial center for years, Bjprvika is now being reinte- grated and redefined as Oslo's new "cultural center." The scope of this redevelopment project includes moving the obtrusive E18 highway to an underground tunnel and con- structing a new opera house, central rail- way station, central public library. Munch museum, and numerous commercial and residential buildings.

The area's changing landscape recently attracted the attention of Situations, a British public art commissioning organiza- tion, which has organized a series of inter- ventions, events, and publications created specifically for the morphing waterfront. For the first project in the program, Slow Space Bjprvika invited San Francisco's Amy Franceschini and Futurefarmers to create a participatory work in the middle of the construction.

Inspired by the redevelopment goal of creating a city within a city and by the name Slow Space, Franceschini developed a plan to combine ideas of "the commons" and of "slowness." On her research trips around Norway, she visited many rural villages, where she was introduced to bakehouses: "These were usually small brick buildings housing a bread oven shared by the village...lively places that linked people...and were often the focal point for sharing surplus food, gossiping, and keeping in touch with the local situa- tion." As Franceschini conceived it, her bakehouse would be used to bake flatbread, a staple shared by native Norwegians as well as the country's Iranian, Iraqi, Soma- li, Pakistani, and Afghan immigrants. Flat- bread Society would feature a variety of different ovens, in addition to a miniature field for heritage grains to be used in the bread (some dating back to the 16th cen- tury) and seating (heated by the ovens) for visitors to gather and discuss everything from makeshift production to food security and astronomy.

During the months of May and June 2013, Franceschini and her team of artists, farmers, oven builders, astronomers, soil scientists, and bakers descended on the "non-site" of Bjprvika to create a tempo- rary bakehouse, "a sort of oasis within this no-man's land" of construction. During the two- month period, the Flatbread Society team conducted research and experimented with the idea of the bake- house, which will ultimately find a permanent home in the same spot in 2016-in the heart of a completed residential community. The 2013 experiment, which Franceschini calls "Explorateur," hosted numerous workshops in bread making, oven building, soil sci- ence, agrarianism, and alternative economies. It also included film screenings, a radio station for field recordings, a mobile oven that traveled along the waterfront on a canoe, and a rolling pin that doubled as a telescope.

Flatbread Society welcomed visitors of all kinds, forming partnerships with local students, beekeepers, fishermen, architects, urban planners, and anti-GMO activists. Ceramics professors suggested that their students build future bakehouses out of local clay, an area bank offered to brainstorm an alternative currency for the bakehouse, and a seaweed harvester donated some of her product to season the bread. …

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