The brightly coloured walls on the building distracted from the fact that Hausmania Kulturpalais was in fact run down.
Its filled were painted with hues across the colour palate, in a grungy tone and style. The water way was fresh now but it used to be filthy and smelly. Hausmania was the beginning of the self-governing commune in Oslo, run by a group of alternative/underground artists based on collectivism. Collectivism is the ideology of giving the society and group greater priority than the individual. If this was translated to a political spectrum than collectivism is considered more along the political left while individualism is considered more along the political right.
Let’s take a break here and point out that this is left of left, Scandanavia is one of the most social democratic regions in the world already, so when even these authorities find this place alternative, you can imagine just how alternative this is.
It’s beginnings mirror somewhat the story of Christiania in Copenhagen – a plot of land or building was left abandoned and people moved in creating a small society of squatters in squalors.. The place grews and develops organically but is first ignored by the authorities since it does no harm and there’s more important things to bother about. Then one day, the place goes beyond its critical point and becomes popular and is too big to ignore. But by this time, the authorities cannot simply shut down the place, because the squatters have lived there long enough to become residents and tenants and negotiations need to take place. In the case of Hausmania, the final agreement that was reached was the the community could be self-run and self-governed as long as it abided by certain safety rules (fire etc). Hausmania has been the centre of avant-garde, conceptually unique art in Oslo for almost 15 years.
But Hausmania was not what I was looking for, I was looking for something else, something less about art and more about a way of life. I followed the river that seperated me and the graffiti on Hausmania and carried on walking next to the river.
The small river adjoined both sides at a bridge, this was the crossing I was looking for. Beckoning me to walk across it as a welcoming goose sat in the water, saying hello to everyone…
…or was it?
It was unmistakably something else, phallic and circumcised. And of you didn’t look carefully you might have missed it. It was the most apt way of saying ‘welcome to our hippie free love, anti-authoritarian, pro-anarchic heaven’. That’s a mouthful, but that is what Ingens Gate is. Touring Grünerløkka brought me finally here, the place I had been meaning to see, the street that most represented a free town in Oslo – Ingen Gata, nobody’s gate. It is visible on google maps but does not officially exist in the Oslo municipality.
The walls of the street were blooming with colour, decorated with paint, there was no set theme and plan, just what the artist felt like spray-painting and this street art extends to the other streets on both sides of this one.
Despite what is said about being an anti-authoritarian, relaxed commune, this place (in my view) thrives on capitalism. On each side of the street were popular alternative cafes such as Ingensteds (translated in English as Nowhere) and a popular nightclub called Blå (translated in English as Blue).
On the streets were vendors converting one man’s trash into another man’s antique and many more selling trinkets of all sorts.
What Ingens Gata sells is a different lifestyle, Blå and Ingensteds are home base for some really cool jazz and are a showpiece site for young up and coming musicians.
Well guess what, I was sold on the lifestyle… especially if its a sunny Saturday to shoot the breeze 😉
ON THE MAP