Garage D. SMATI Turtle 1
A small minority of the world’s population lives in a planned, well organized and regulated society – think of the Netherlands and other countries in Western Europe. Despite cutbacks by governments that are increasingly calling upon on their citizens to manage by themselves, ours remains a society in which civil authorities (and large corporations) determine the social environment in which we live. The majority of the world’s population, on the other hand, lives, moves about, studies and works in System D. – the ultimate Do-It-Yourself world, where government is largely absent, the living situation is often problematic and people have to fend for themselves.
In Suame Magazine (Kumasi/Ghana), the largest automobile district of Africa, 200,000 tradespeople work every day in 12,000 workplaces, shops and small factories. They repair, convert and adapt discarded cars from Europe. It is a place where workmanship, a knowledge of recycling, ingenuity and self-sufficiency rule the day. This is why Melle Smets and Joost van Onna decided to work in Suame Magazine, in close collaboration with the local community of the open air automobile factory of System D., in order to design, develop and build their own car: the Turtle 1.
Part 1 – Thursday, 31 October, 8 PM
A System D. Car is Never Done
In Western Europe, we are alienated from our living environment. We are surrounded by stuff: ready-made products that we are no longer capable of repairing ourselves. Take the car. The ultimate symbol of personal freedom has degenerated into a riding iPad – efficient and safe, but aloof and impersonal at the same time. In Suame Magazine, however, everything revolves around workmanship and a knowledge of recycling, ingenuity and self-sufficiency. Today’s presentation is about the Turtle 1. How was it designed and built? By whom, where, and why? The team of builders in this project conducted research into the African car. What is an African car, and what requirements must it satisfy? Students from the University of Kumasi and the Rietveld Academy carried out their investigation in Suame Magazine. It turned out, for instance, that a Ghanaian car had already been produced more often. The research results and an overview of the design and manufacturing process give a clear picture of how cars are built in Suame Magazine and how people in Ghana approach mobility.
Part 2 – Friday, 1 November, 8 PM
The System behind System D.
Smets and Van Onna take you on a walking tour through Suame Magazine, the open air car factory of System D, looking for the visible and less visible structures of this automobile district. As they search for suitable auto-parts for the Turtle I, they discuss the dynamics of system D. Along the way, the two men encounter mechanics, priests, inventors and salesmen. Gradually, the seeming chaos of wrecked cars, huts and workplaces changes into a well-oiled industrial area with a logic of its own.
Part 3 – Saturday, 2 November, 8 PM
Learning by Doing in System D.
For centuries in Europe, the most important method of training was the master-mate-apprentice system. In this system, you didn’t learn in order to work, you learned by working. You began apprenticing as a youth in order to learn a trade. In large parts of Europe, this system has now been marginalized, but in Suame Magazine, it’s still alive and kicking. In thousands and thousands of workplaces, young men are trained to become rubber cutters, welders, mechanics or painters. The system is the social backbone of the district. During the presentation, Smets and Van Onna will take you to different workplaces in the district and explain the dynamics of this versatile training system. What’s more, you’ll get a peep at the Turtle 1 workplace, where 30 mechanics worked together for three months.
SMATI Turtle 1 is a project of:
Suame Magazine Industrial Development Organisation
Team exhibition Garage D:
Composition: Melle Smets (Artist Researcher)
Lectures programme: Joost van Onna (Criminologist Researcher)
Lectures by: Joost van Onna & Melle Smets
Video and Photography: Teun Vonk (Photographer)
Sound: Mat Wijn (Sound Designer)
De Turtle 1 is made possible by:
Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve industrie
Centrum Beeldende Kunst Rotterdam
Royal Burger group
Rijks Dienst voor het wegverkeer