‘The White Bicycle Plan proposes to create bicycles for public use that cannot be locked. The white bicycle symbolizes simplicity and healthy living, as opposed to the gaudiness and filth of the authoritarian automobile.’ Provo manifesto
For Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010, NVA staged a re-enactment of the infamous Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike Plan) .
The original Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike plan) was an anarchic free transport programme and the most famous manifesto of the Provos, the Dutch counter culture movement of the 1960’s. They released 50 or so, free to use, specially painted white bikes which were scattered across the city of Amsterdam. This was done as a statement against the rise of consumerism, pollution and congestion caused by the privately owned vehicle. Although the action was shortlived due to theft and vandalism, Provo members used seats on the local council to propose further large-scale white bike plans. The initiative stands as the source inspiration for the (PUB) Public Use Bicycle systems which have been updated and ‘officially’ replicated in cities worldwide.
NVA’s White Bike Plan referenced and reinvigorated this key legacy from the political, philosophical and ecological directives of the Dutch Provo movement. NVA released 50 white bikes across the city for the Glasgow International audience to freely use for travelling around town and between venues for the duration of the festival.
There was a central drop-off point at the Glasgow International Festival Hub courtyard on 54 Miller St every night until 9.30pm as well as bike drop points at the other main festival venues. NVA published an accompanying Witte Fietsenplan (White Bike plan) pamphlet which was distributed throughout festival venues. It also included the universal combination lock code of 6510 for the bikes. You can download a PDF version of the pamphlet to print at home HERE.
We are now re-collecting the bikes (although two have been spotted in Germany and one in London’) which we will be donating to nominated local beneficiaries and charities for permanent use.
NVA seeks to be in dialogue with its audience and create participative public art based around key issues facing society. Our approach is a collective one: both through artistic development and in encouraging audiences to participate physically and creatively in the making of each work; we also seek to bridge the gap between political strategy and practical implementation. The White Bike Plan was art re-positioning an original historic action through its contemporary re-enactment.
200 ON THE WHITE BIKE RIDE OUT!
NVA staged a mass Ride Out to launch the White Bikes on Thursday 15th April. There was a call out for support on this very website, Facebook, Central Station and through inital press coverage. All the riders assembled at the Kelvingrove Park Fountain at 11.30am. The 50 White Bikes, accompanied by 150 cycling supporters, rode en masse from Kelvingrove Park to George Square stopping traffic in their wake. Upon arriving at George Square, the proclamation of the original manifesto was read out in both Dutch and English while Angus painted a bike white in tribute to the original launch. Both the riders of the ride out and the gathering public were in high spirits with many a bike being held above the heads of the crowd. After many a cheers of support, the bikes were dispersed to all the Festival venues. A big thank you to all who joined us - a good day was had by all!
NVA also curated a small exhibition on the Provo’s Witte Fietsenplan at the Glasgow International Hub at 54 Miller Street. This included the White Bike which was painted as a protest in George Square at the Ride Out event.