Broken Umbrella & Broken Bicycle, Stavanger
This is a brilliant Norwegian concept based on, and in answer to Broken Column, a set of sculptures that an Englishman placed about town.
Broken Umbrella is a popular interactive work in which many loosely associated artists participate. The umbrellas, once transformed to appear to be broken, are placed about town, but not actually secured to the ground, so each day the sculpture actually physically changes shape and form! Some are open, some closed, and they are always carefully placed to approximate the illusion of randomness. New umbrellas are constantly being added in the Broken Umbrella Festival season, which usually runs from October through May, with the exception of December through February, which is Lost Glove Festival season. If you observe closely, you can even catch a glimpse of these elusive anarchic artists creating their works.
From June through September, a different subset of artists take over, and Norwegians celebrate Broken Bicycle. BB follows the same pattern, but features a combination of temporary and permanent works. You need to be quick to chart the location of, or photograph the temporary ones because the locations are frequently changed.
The exhibits are a striking portrayal of the human spirit. Once new, clean and free to fly about, and over time, peice by piece, component by component, gradually worn down and damaged from overwork and rusted from an opressive environment, the tyres flattened and dry-rotted from supressed emotions, feelings, dreams, imagination, and finally, with a lack of care, disposed of like a cheap commodity.
Also from June through August, but mostly on Thursday through Sunday nights, the related Broken Bottle and Broken Nose festivals, dubbed "Living Art," are celebrated. The overarching principle is careful planning to ensure an appearance of chaos to the viewing public.
These works specifically define Stavanger's place in its new title of "European City of Culture, 2008."