UBCO student Peter Navratil, 23, holds a bunsen burner he uses to make breakfast in the morning while living in his van. - Carli Berry/Capital News

UBCO student uses van as a creative outlet, by living in it

Peter Navratil has been living in a van on and off for the past three years

Peter Navratil’s way of life revolves around proving inanimate objects, even when they’re not being used, matter.

Navratil, 23, has been living in his van “Malinda” on and off for the past three years to inspire his artistic creations.

“I’m definitely living here to try and save money but that’s not the whole part of it,” Navratil said, adding he saves rent money but also spends more on gas. “When (you) are living in your vehicle you can’t live the same lifestyle so you kind of adapt and survive to the way it suits that.”

He lives simply, with a cot, blankets, a suitcase, a small Styrofoam cooler and a few necessities for music, including a guitar, a microphone, a keyboard as well as a few art supplies.

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In the theatre program at UBC Okanagan and a summer student at the Vernon Public Art Gallery, Navratil centres his work on inanimate objects.

“My sculpture work and performance work are centred around the use of the inanimate object and humanity’s perception of the object,” he said. “So there’s a general consensus in philosophy that… objects are for our use, they don’t function in any other means and don’t accomplish anything unless they’re being used by that person.”

But Navratil, originally from Williams Lake, thinks inanimate objects need to be brought to the forefront and has even hosted a theatre show where a toaster carries a conversation. It shows that objects, despite being outside of our realm of thought when they’re not in use, have a function.

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His new series “The Philip P Junior and Malinda Show,” which he is creating with his classmates, will feature his van, and he aims to complete film production before school begins.

But as far as actual living in a van goes, the living situation is easier than one may think.

“Most of the time I try to cook breakfast or peanut butter sandwiches,” he said. “I eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches.”

He carries a small Bunsen burner which he uses to make meals, but also eats at restaurants more often than not, he said. He showers at the gym, after purchasing a pass and uses a laundromat for clothes, he said.

“I don’t mind living in a small confined space. Getting up in the morning is definitely hard because you have to get up, and right there you have to change and start your day, so it’s pretty immediate,” he said.

Navratil tries to find a space to stash the van for a few days, usually in empty parking lots, and uses his bike to get around when he can.

The most interesting place he said he’s slept outside is a Fabric Land, and the lifestyle has allowed him to meet all sorts of people, he said.

But he finds the ability to travel with his home whenever he wants freeing and the spare time goes towards creating art.

Once school begins, he will move into a temporary home with friends in Kelowna, saying he couldn’t pass up a good opportunity.

The downside to living in a van is “it’s just that when you’re going home you’re always going home alone,” he said.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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