Compressed, December 2019-January 2020, Julianalaan, Leeuwaarden, The Netherlands.
Commissioned by VHDG
A special object is to be found on the roundabout on Julianalaan in Leeuwarden: a compressed block of metal. Once this was a car. A gray Peugeot, someone's means of transport. Artist Eirik Jahnsen borrowed this car wreck from the scrap yard A.S.O Metall and Schrotthandel in Bunde, Germany. The car wreck was compressed there in order to be recycled. The resulting block of material was transported by Jahnsen to Leeuwarden, where he placed it on the roundabout. In doing so, he transforms the former consumer product into a temporary sculpture. After the one-month exhibition period, the piece went back to the scrap yard. Once arrived there, it continued its course in the cycle of the automobile industry, being reused as raw material and processed into new products.
The idea underlying Eirik Jahnsen’s artworks is that all materials around us have a temporary shape that holds the potential to be transformed into something else. Even a strong, stable material such as steel is constantly in transition and in movement, being part of a large industrial cycle. Jahnsen is interested in this cycle and how materials move around in our society in general. With Compressed, the artist draws a parallel with this cycle of materials and the circulation of the cars that are constantly driving around the roundabout. The sculpture is a static object resting in the middle of the traffic. This contrast between stillness and movement symbolizes the pause that the artist created for this object in its individual cycle: from raw material, to consumer product, to discarded object and back to raw material. The practical requirements of the automotive industry have largely determined the shape of the sculpture: an efficient rectangular package that is easy to stack, store and transport. In this project, the artist has taken up the role of director rather than sculptor.
Text by Arda van Tiggelen
Photos by Nol Klis