|| Hitchhiking General | 2008 ||
Hitchhiking General | June 2008 | Performance | Commisioned by Malmo Konsthall
In Summer 2008 I was invited to participate in a project curated by Jacob Fabricius. The project was called Autostop which in Spanish means Hitchhiking. For this project during June 2008, members of the staff at Malmo Konsthall hitchhiked with artist works, performed artist instructions, handed out texts, or simply hitchhiked in the southern region of Sweden. So including Jacob, every person working at the Konsthall hitchhiked for two days on behalf of an artist working on the project. When Jacob approached me with this very intriguing idea, I immediately told him my memories of the period when I hitchhiked almost everyday while I was studying for a B.A. at Hacettepe University in Ankara. I proposed a project called Hitchhiking General.
Hitchhiking General was performed by Olof Olsson who was one of participating hitchhiking Konsthall members in June 2008. For two days Olof wore a standard suit of a Swedish general and he was hitchhiking with two car flags in his hands. Whenever someone stopped to offer him a ride, he suggested that they place the two small flags on the front bonnet of the car just like flags on official cars. The flags would remain in place throughout the journey and until the General got out of the car. I used Hitchhiking General as an absurd metaphor in terms of power structure. This orchestrated situation displaces the position of power and demands participation. In a General s costume, the hitchhiker is no longer just a stranger who needs to be transported from one place to another, he becomes a strategic symbol that is hard to refuse or ignore by people passing by.
For me one of the most interesting outcomes of this idea is that the audience who on those days drove their car past the Hitchhiking General didn't have so much time to think about whether he/she should stop on seeing a General hitchhiking on the road. The visual encounter was so short that the driver has only a few moments to decide what to do and if the driver didn't stop, they would never find out if the General was real or not. This moment of fleeting potential is the art action. The memory of not having stopped to find out the reality will stay in these drivers' minds as a question to contemplate forever.