The bicycle thieves.

The bicycle thieves. 2008. Found discarded bicycles, bicycle locks and chalk. 54 Degree North 'Latitude' Hull.


Why do people chain their bikes to trees and leave them there for weeks on end?  Do they really expect them to survive? Hull, similar to every City, has no shortage of broken bikes chained to street signs, bike racks and any manner of semi-permanent structure. Each has its own flavour, its own character, and most definitely its own story.  I wonder how long these bikes sit here before they get stripped down - And is the market for hot bicycle tires/pedals/seats/handlebars/whatever really that lucrative.


When a bike gets left out and is stripped, it becomes evident after a while that it's abandoned. I realise that these bikes had become part of the urban landscape and visible everywhere. Bikes in this condition stand out to me as a form of urban malaise and I work with them to acknowledge their passing. It's my own poetic dialogue with the street. I keep that these are broken bikes that have crossed my path.


The bicycle thieves a project part of the 54 Degree North 'Latitude' art festival, Hull, 2008. As an account of the City that is set forth in the practices of the "every day" The Bicycle Thieves project explored the notion of cities and their cinematic portrayals through the 'performative' action of walking linked to the social dynamics and physical qualities of the street, and the cinema's textual tool, the subtitle.


The disjunction between the original language of a film and the language of the subtitle used to superimpose a second language over the original, naturally animating discussions of translation, otherness, representation, national identities, the tasks of cultural interpretation and perhaps providing access to spaces that would otherwise be indecipherable. With this project, the chalk-drawn subtitle culled from the 1948 film 'Ladri di biciclette' provided a narrative and a textural motif that offered a para-text of reciprocal contribution and inclusion within the mise en scène of the artist's unsigned 'performative' walk to the (inadvertent) spectator.


-Stop him! Stop the thief!

-Thief! Thief!

-What happened!


-Stop him!

-Hurry… Come on… Get on.

-Catch him… He went this way…Quick… Hurry.


-What’s happened, Antonio?

-My bike’s been stolen.

-No … Where?


Film Script, Cesare Zavattini. Ladri di Biciclette. 1948.



Commissioned by: Fifty Four Degrees North Festival, Hull, UK.

® Eirini Boukla.  // All Rights Reserved.

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