Art in transit Bespoke visual art and poetry for the new tram in Odense

Art in transit
Exhibition | Monday d. 16. Nov. - Saturday d. 21. Nov. 2020 | Østre Stationsvej 15, Odense C | Price: 0 Kr. | Written by: Elena Stanciu | Translated by: Christoffer Henneberg

Location: Hovedbiblioteket
Organizer: Odense Letbane

There’s an unofficial etiquette to travelling by urban public transportation. We all know it and accept it: you can’t just complicate things by talking to other travellers, making eye contact, or God forbid get off at the same stop and continue a conversation you foolishly started. It isn’t just me, right? 

Well, good news for you who also observe the unspoken rules of urban transit publicness – the new trams we’re all so patiently waiting for will come adorned with bespoke visual art by Kristian Djurhuus, who goes by Mormor, and poetry by Odense’s own Lui Larsen. Something to look at, other than strangers or the same old neighbourhoods! 

The artworks are now on exhibition and will travel around the city in the coming year. Week 47 is though the last chance to see them at Odense Central Library.

The artists spent time in Odense – looking for the “soul” of the city, to capture it in their works. That’s a beautiful, meaningful approach, and one that moves past understanding a place through its materiality and its landmarks (regurgitated ad nauseam by tourism discourse). I’ll look for myself in the artworks – not out of some type of generational narcissism, but because I am of the city, therefore its soul must have a part of my own in its fabric. Right? In any case, Mormor’s visual language fits this modern, sleek addition to a city that prides itself on quirkiness and adventure – intricate, playful, lively witty, with a dynamic use of lines and patterns, arranged to delight and pique curiosity. The artist promises some “hidden treasures” he found in the city are among the works; what a joy!  

The art and poems are also connected to the names the 16 trams will have – all dreamy, rich concepts that hit close to home (if slightly through a tokenistic tourism lens): The Adventure, The Dream, Happiness, Horizon, the Symphony, etc. The names (full list here) were found back in 2018, by inviting Odense residents to continue the phrase “To travel is….”, in the theme “To travel is to live.” Little did anyone know that travel would be so shaken to its core just two years later. 

But nevermind – urban transit is more of a part of living our lives than we’d like to give it credit, and adding art and poetry in the mix of electricity, polycarbonate and sleekness is a way of showing love and care to what would otherwise be an impersonal, snake-like figure, carrying us from a to b.     

Link to the event

Written by Elena Stanciu

Elena has an MA in American Studies from SDU, and currently works as Features Editor for arts and culture publication PETRIe. She is interested in visual culture and contemporary art, design an...