I had the opportunity to be in Oslo the day Obama left. I arrived early in the morning and when I reached the city the streets were filled with police and their automatic weapons. They completely outnumbered the pedestrians. It was hard to get around as the footpaths were still lined with steel fences. There were a lot of Americans walking about – they had obviously got up early to wave good-bye to their president. I over heard a group of buzzing Americans laughing at the gun-heavy politi continually getting hooked on the fences with there MP5s as they passed through.
The first Obama sign I bumped into that day made me laugh out loud. I wondered how the US would feel sharing their president with Norway but I guess the true intention was just pure capitalism. However, throughout the day more and more Obama posters kept popping up. These posters are just screaming for psychoanalysis.
This next poster I thought was quite clever. It was the first one of its kind I had seen. It was placed in the Oslo central train station. The double meaning of ‘change’ I could understand as I was at the train station but what was 1504M about? Obama looked very ‘JFK’ in a 60s stencil print with blue skies.
The next poster I saw was another stencil, obviously from the same promotion. Again the wording ‘hope’ was cleverly placed as I was standing at the docks watching the boat come in – ‘hope floats’. But what was the bent arrow and the 92M about?
Just 50 metres towards the city I saw the ‘peace’ sign and realised that it was pointing to the Nobel Peace Centre which was only ’48M’ away. ‘Change’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Peace’. These campaign slogans, especially at this time of year, started to take on a religious tone. The only persona that I am used to seeing connected to change, hope and peace is certainly not an American president. What I first thought was cheesy-silliness on the campaigners side was now starting to scream ‘Obama-ganda’.
The Nobel Peace Centre (ooops ‘Center’) used to be an information centre a couple of years back and a train station before that. It stands alone at the mouth of the docks towards the Oslo Town Hall and the ‘sell, sell sell’ Christmas market for tourists. A double ‘Call to Action’ to help remind President Obama that his Nobel Prize is his ‘call to act’.
If I didn’t know better I would have thought the graphic designer wanted us to think that Obama is ‘King’… King of the world or maybe King of kings? And what is Obama about to pull – a rip cord?
I don’t understand why ‘This is Our Time’ only between 25th Sep 2009 – 11 Apr 2010. (Well, maybe the poster is advertising an exhibition of Martin Luther King and Obama?)
Darkness fell and thats when I bumped into the joker poster on Karl Johan street – the main walking street between the central station and royal castle – the street of Obama’s hotel. It hadn’t been there in the morning or even during the day. In fact, I realised that I hadn’t seen any anti-Obama posters until now. In this ‘free-speech’ promoting society these posters were obviously not permitted while Obama was in town and so had to wait until after dark to surface again.
If each country adopts Obama as their ‘token’ president, would New World Order conspiracy turn into a theorem?
This last poster I saw appear in the streets last. I don’t know the Norwegian cultural meanings behind it (you have to be Norwegian, I guess, to fully understand) but this poster reads:
Alternative Peace Prize Concert against war.
Bands: Gatas Parlament, Gaspard +++
10 december 8pm, 50 kr. at Blitz.
Sponsors: Red Youth and Blitz
The odd thing is it was posted on the 11th but it advertised a concert on the 10th. The sponsors, Rød Ungdom, are a youth brigade of the Communist Party in Norway and Blitz is their ‘autonomous counter-culture centre’. The Rød Ungdom certainly has a different idea of Obama to the Nobel committee’s hopes.
That night I watched the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in honour of Obama (without Obama but) with an American dominated cast: Will Smith, wife plus two kids, Donna Sommer, Wyclef Jean, Esperanza Spalding, Toby Keith and Luis Fonsi. The only Norwegian performer was the Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak (oh, and of course, KORK – the Norwegian NRK orchestra).