Headscarfs Close to the Ground

One performance-week in Oslo by Elena Aitzkoa 

A project commissioned by OSLO PILOT


This week poet and sculptress Elena Aitzkoa is doing performances around the city of Oslo carrying a light blue suitcase full of sculptures. You can find her singing and whistling in the street, probably wearing a headscarf. 

“City Centre. The common space slips away with use and moves off in the direction of the passers by. The only people who stay still are beggars, each routinely taking over a small area early in the morning. I walk about because I have nothing particular to do, and I see them again and again in the district where I am staying. Almost all the people who are asking for help in the street are women, women of all ages. I think they are Romani people, but I might be wrong. They definitely don’t live in the street where I see them every morning. They arrive from some district on the outskirts, meet here and organise themselves. One group of four or five must be aged between about eighteen and twenty-two. Early in the morning they meet in the big street close to my house but then they spend the day moving up and down Karl Johans Gate. They beg on foot. There is one I think beautiful. She wears a long dark red velvet scarf, wedge mules, and a carefully tied, maybe spotted, headscarf.

The older women huddle close to the ground, wrapped up in layers of clothing. They set up a cardboard sign and then stay there the whole day, the fabric of their clothes rubbing against the pavement. From where I am, I can’t make them out clearly: cloth, pavement, some hands. Cloth lifted off the pavement by the wind. Sometimes in the middle of the morning, they get up and group together with the other women and take a coffee outside the 7-Eleven.  And they smoke. Afterwards they use the take-away cups to ask for money.

I am going to make sculptures that fit in a suitcase. Then every day for a week, I will put the sculptures in the case and go out onto the streets of Oslo. I’ll pick a spot and set up the sculptures. As I arrange them I might sing or recite a poem.

Concrete and cloth.” 


Elena Aitzkoa