Amsterdam Bike Reincarnation

  • Action Video / Eight Channel Video
  • 14:37
  • 2007

It would be strange if a cyclist never lost his bike in Amsterdam. But this doesn’t seem to bother the local people. You can easily buy a stolen bike for 10 Euros from the street or a second hand shop. This is how it begins: You buy a bike, and one day it gets stolen, dissembled and reassembled for sale. Then another person comes along and buys the bike. This becomes a cycle that shapes the bicycle transportation system in Amsterdam. Any bike on the street could be assembled from other stolen bikes. Or it could be reassembled so many times that it is impossible to know what it looked like in the first place. Living in this system, what should people do when their bike gets stolen? Buy a new one from a bike shop (knowing that it could get stolen again or that it could be a stolen bike)? Or should they simply shop for (“borrow” or steal) one on the street?

These stolen bikes dissolve quickly into the system. The police can never keep up with the high speed “organic” cycle, and so their tolerance has made them the silent accomplice. Police surveillance only shows how unbreakable the cycle is. When a police checks a bike, he would find that somehow it looks like every other reported stolen bike. The identity of each bike is ambiguous, just like people’s quiet acceptance of the system, like it’s a part of their daily life. No one can guarantee their bike isn’t stolen goods. In other words, through the process of stealing, disassembling, reassembling and reselling, all the dealers, buyers and even the police are participants who help the cycle grow.

To demonstrate the cycle, I made a social experiment by involving the police and the thief, showing that the two normally opposing parties could in fact be collaborators. All the bikes that are stolen or dissembled in the film were placed there beforehand for the purpose of the experiment. Neither the police nor the thief knew about it. This way, their act might constitute theft, but no crimes were actually committed.

GROUP EXHIBITION

2008 "Ctrl Z", inFIDI space, Taipei, TW

2007 "Open Ateliers 2007 Rijksakademie", Rijksakademie, Amsterdam, NL