Oslo’s Hidden Gem: Hausmania

 

“I really enjoy being a functional human being in the society, still living like this. This way of life is actually working out and I am actually happy with it.”

Ida Frisch and her boyfriend, Martin Osvold, are temporarily crashing in an art studio in Hausmania, located in the center of Oslo, Norway. Hausmania was an abandoned building occupied by squatters until 1999. Now it is a cultural center for artists and musicians in the city of about 650,000 souls.

Ida grew up in a hippie family where she got used to people moving in and out of the house as well as her life. She started her career as a puppeteer in September 2016. Her professor encouraged her to study abroad in Prague for a semester where she was introduced to the art of puppetry. This intrigued her so much that she randomly decided to carve a niche for herself in this art form.

Martin on the other hand is a professional pirate of the good kind. He is an actor and his assignments as a pirate include organizing treasure hunts and magic shows for kids. He says that people believe in the romanticized version of pirates, in which they are generally associated with treasures, but it’s all a myth. He started this career as a gag and then just got rolling with it.

“The kids are being taught that the world is not magic anymore and I find that quite horrifying. I just want to make some magic,” Martin said.

Some artists and musicians come to develop their creativity. Others, well, they might stay a little longer.

“There Is a Director who has the right to use the room so we contacted him and he said send me a glass of dry white wine every day and that would be it for the rent,” Ida said.

Ida and Martin were homeless when they first met in one of Ida’s children’s puppeteer show called Home. She believes it was symbolic, as they now co-exist in a tiny room at Hausmania.

According to Nicolai Gulowsen, a cultural worker and activist, Hausmania is run by the artists and everyone currently renting there has a vote. “It’s like a direct democracy style we are operating,” he said. “It’s like running a small village in a way, with its local politics. We have the same issues you have in city council but on a smaller scale. Everybody has to take some responsibility about the house and the future of the house. It’s a very good school to learn about society.”

Gulowsen said the difference between neighboring squats and Hausmania is mainly the relationship with the owner where the squat is part of a “housing action,” which has a main goal to create social housing, communal housing as a free place. Also, because there is a big need for social housing due to the sale of social housing from the city to private owners.

“The politicians say that they want to protect Hausmania, but they signed papers to sell all the rest except Hausmania,” Gulowsen said. “We would be surrounded by new buildings. Those things can work to our benefit, but it can easily kind of whitewash everything. We will be like a little spot in between that nobody is enjoying.”

Gulowsen said while the squats are kind of illegal, they are accepted since they have been working for so long.

According to Gulowsen, Number 40 squat, a neighboring building to Hausmania, has always wanted to get a rent deal with the community to acknowledge their responsibility and ownership. “There were negotiations and stuff but it failed,” he said. “While Hausmania got a contract in 2008 so we are not here illegally.”

Gulowsen is scared for the future of Hausmania and its tenants. The land and building once had very little value, but now with the city growing, Hausmania’s value has increased dramatically. “Our contract is expiring in five years,” he said. “Many of us feel a little bit choked by the development around us.”

As for Ida and Martin, they enjoy their unique lives at Hausmania. “It’s an active choice to live here,” she said. “It’s so good because it’s so different from the way that everyone else lives. I really enjoy not having my own bathroom and we have to walk through the building to take shower and walk outside to get water.”

“We don’t call it our home as such,” Martin said. “We have given it a name, ‘the cabin’ or ‘ship’s cabin.’ We know it’s temporary and just because we know it’s temporary we really appreciate all the hours we have here,” Martin said.

Martin calls Hausmania a ‘hidden gem.’ “It feels like I get very creative while I am here, because it does not feel like I am in the thick of the soup of Oslo. It feels like I am somewhere else,” he said.

 

Video: Cielito | A taste of Mexico in Norway

You can find authentic food from all over the world when you visit Oslo, Norway. If you are in the mood for Mexican food, a great place to eat is at Cielito on Dronningens Gate 26. Most of the employees come from Latin countries, and they love sharing their culture with people in Norway. It would be hard to find this level of authenticity at a Mexican restaurant in the United States, even though the U.S.A is substantially closer to Mexico than Norway.

Each decoration inside the restaurant has been brought to Oslo from Mexico City. The atmosphere here will make you forget that you are in Oslo.

Heavy Metal + Saxophone + Norway = Black Jazz

There are many different genres of music. Most people in music dedicate their life to studying and perfecting one type of music that defines them.  Jørgen Munkeby is the exception. The 36–year-old Norwegian grew up on the metal scene but left the genre as a teenager to study jazz. After almost a decade apart he came back to metal and brought jazz with him to make his own unique genre, Black Jazz.  

Now Munkeby is the frontman for the black jazz band The Shining, but it took him a while to get to that spot.  He jumped around between genres for a while not fully being satisfied by one or the other.

“I played a lot of jazz music and I felt that when I play jazz music I felt that it was music for other people than me I felt that it was music for older generations,” Munkeby said.  

He and the band had to go through many musical transitions until they found something new and exciting.  When Munkeby left jazz and went solely black to metal, his style varied because he claims he gets bored very easily of one style.  

“I felt that both of these things were really important to me after really studying jazz and I did that because I thought it was interesting and I loved doing that enough that that became part of me and I wanted to do both,” Munkeby said.

In 2010 The Shining released their first black jazz album called Black Jazz.  The music is essentially metal music with Munkeby playing the saxophone to incorporate the jazz.  Munkeby sees it as 75% metal with 25% jazz – but the jazz gets 75% of the attention because it is so different from anything else.

“I think in the beginning it was clear that one of the main things that made people interested in our music was that they hadn’t heard anything like it before,” Munkeby said. “Especially in the metal world where things seem to stand still a lot.”

Munkeby believes black metal in itself is not progressing, with the same bands from when he was a kid headlining the big metal festivals.  Although he does believe there will always be young bands trying new things to help the music evolve, and that is what he is doing with black jazz.

As of right now The Shining is the only band to label themselves as black jazz but other bands have started to incorporate jazz into their music.  

“For other people to use that name [black jazz] I would welcome it,” Munkeby said.  “They might think it would be rude of them to take that name. Like in a patent world it would not be allowed, it’d be illegal and rude but in a musical art world I think that’s what I want people to do.”

Munkeby even plays saxophone for other bands to help grow the genre.  

Looking to the future Munkeby is unsure of what will happen to black jazz and the metal genre as a whole but believes he has accomplished his goal of creating something new.

“How big is it compared to other big achievements in music history is hard to say but for me it has been accomplished well enough for me,” Munkeby says.

Stream The Shining on Spotify and learn more about the future of black metal at www.oslorocks.com and HPR Abroad online.

 

Blodspor: A profile in rock

It’s Friday night and the underground metal band Blodspor is nearly ready to take the stage at Revolver, a well-known venue in Oslo’s underground.

Revolver is part of Oslo’s famous metal and black metal scene.  It is only a block or two from two similar venues, The Rockefeller and John Dee. Kniven, a black metal bar, is located right nearby and so is Neseblod Records, a record store and black metal museum.

Just before the show, Blodspor guitarist Bent Ronde walks down the street to Whataburger to grab a bite to eat and talk about the metal scene and his band. Blodspor is a metal band from Oslo that has been playing since 2006

Ronde says metal is not a static scene. Since no two bands are the same, he says he thinks the scene will continue to grow.  

“I think metal is just going to keep on evolving and people are going to push the limits, and just go for it every time,” Bent said. “Every band is going to try and make their own sound, try to make their own thing, and that’s why it’s going to just keep on moving and moving and moving.”

After Ronde eats, he is ready to take the stage.  Blodspor headlines the three band show at Revolver. The other two bands were Halcyon Days, also from Oslo, and Killtek from Trondheim.

Blodspor is one of the eight bands in the underground metal record label Negative Vibe Records. Read more on on Negative Vibe Records and Norway’s metal scene in upcoming issues of HPR and online at OsloRocks.blog. See Blodspor in action at https://oslorocks.blog/2017/06/20/a-profile-in-rock-blodspor/.

Interview: “Drone” producer Jonathon Lie

Over the past several years the drone industry has grown rapidly. The origin of much of this development has rooted itself in North Dakota, as hundreds of businesses flock to the area to begin research and development of unmanned aircrafts and their accompanying technologies. The essential capitol of drone usage and development is the Grand Forks Air Force base, which has been flying exclusively drones since 2013. But the right to use drones extensively in the Untied States remains with U.S. government, which raises issues on a commercial and political level.

There are many uses for drones from a commercial standpoint. Where they may not serve much of a purpose in densely populated areas where they are seen as a privacy and safety issue, drones allow more rural areas and areas not easily accessible to people the ability to be monitored more efficiently. Drones can be used to help monitor pipelines and wind turbines, help farmers keep track of livestock and gather data on crops, and even help fishermen locate their catch with greater accuracy and speed. But until the commercial sale of drones is legal none of this will happen. Quentin Hardy from the New York Times states in his article on the grown of drone technology in North Dakota, “Right now, private sector drones are where personal computers were in the 1970s: a hobbyist technology waiting to become mainstream.” As long as the commercial use of drones is banned the businesses in North Dakota are stuck in the research and development phase.

The largest and perhaps the most wildly unregulated use of drones, comes from the U.S. Air Force. Since the early 2000s the Air Force has been using unmanned aircrafts for surveillance and since then evolved them into highly accurate and deadly weapons that can be controlled from thousands of miles away. But where technological advances rapidly increase, intelligence and concern for human rights fall behind.

In the award wining documentary “Drone,” it is brought to light how the Air Force uses drones to seek out and destroy suspected terrorists in Pakistan using unreliable intelligence and showing little to no concern for civilian casualties. We hear testimony from those who piloted those drones and how the system is flawed and inhumane, as well as testimony from the villagers themselves who lost family members during a drone strike.

In an interview with Jonathan Borge Lie, the assistant director and producer for “Drone” he talks about his loss of faith in the U.S Government over the duration of shooting this film. When asked what solutions he thinks there are for this troubling issue he states, “There needs to be transparency, so we need to know how they are picking their targets… The other one is accountability. There’s been so many errors that have been made, so many civilians that have been killed; there hasn’t been a single amount of accountability.” Unfortunately there are still some voices in the U.S. Government that still believe killing a terrorist is worth any cost.

What if it were at the cost of American citizens? Likely one of the most powerful points made in “Drone” is made by Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU National Security Project.

“Those who are OK with the United States wielding this authority have to ask themselves what their response would be if Russia, China, Iran claimed the authority to target and kill enemies of the state without identifying who they are, what standards apply, what factual basis there is, what civilian casualties occur. This is a precedent that we are setting for others to follow.”

In other words, what would we think if our enemies started conducting drone strikes on our own civilians under the same pretenses? How would we be different from them?

There are lots of questions to be asked about issues surrounding misuse of drone technology but the question that the drone companies in North Dakota should be asking is: How are drones banned for commercial use when the government misuses them so wildly themselves?