Overblog Follow this blog
Edit post Administration Create my blog
November 3 2008 2 03 /11 /November /2008 15:05

"A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath ... a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace" (F.T. Marinetti)

From October 15th to January 26th, 2009, the futurist outlaws invade the Pompidou Center. They glorified war, destruction and arson and one will certainly fail to find, in this group of enraged Italians, the ideal son-in-law or a model for academic artists. Unfortunately, everything must come to an end. And not always the way you imagined it would. And though they asked once begged to be "thrown in the waste paper basket like useless manuscripts" and to be murdered by "younger and stronger men", they actually end up under the spotlights of a prestigious museum, one of "those cemeteries of wasted effort, calvaries of crucified dreams, registers of false starts". You can't always choose which way you'll finally go. Throughout time, they exhorted the automobile as a blazing monster which could burn down art, throw our senses into panic mode and scare society's values.

Of course, it seems a little bit flippant to consider car arsons, such as those which regularly smoke out the breaking news section (Vitry-le-François, "From Paris with Love"... and "From Montfermeil with Hate", a burned-out project by Luc Besson, the "Civil War" in 2005) like works of art and the charming arsonists like damned artists or visionary futurists. However, it is not totally stupid to consider there might a message behind the smoke. Not a concept, but a shout for help. A fire alarm. For a short and quick summary and (eventually) the ideal soundtrack, watch the video "Stress", which Romain Gavras directed for the band Justice.

The descendants of The Obedient or of The Never Happy (ancient and poetic name of your actual Peugeot 307) have greatly inspired numerous contemporary artists, in different and various aspects of mistreatments and expressions of violence. No reference here to Erwin Wurm's force-fed and chubby cars but rather to what appears as determined wishes to inflict pain to our next best friend... after television. The pioneer of this Crash-esque scene (no way we can avoid mentioning J.G. Ballard and Cronenberg... no way!) is certainly Cesar Baldaccini. Compressions of vehicles reduced to an aesthetical minimalism, radical destruction of the illusory consumptions during the mid 60s. Question: "what to do with a car's empty metal frame?". Artists answer by dealing with the carcass as raw material. On Unpainted Sculpture, 1997, Charles Ray casts damaged remains of Pontiac Gran Am and reconstructs it exactly on fiberglass. Sylvie Fleury, as usual, mixes eroticism, luxury, humor, femininity and violence into her Skin Crime series, covering dead cars with shiny colors. A technique similarly used by the Scottish artist Rory MacBeth who paints abandoned wrecks and leaves them in situ, creating an incongruous and poetic gap in a reality filled up with violence. It'd be hard not to mention Adel Abdessemed in an article, which draws comparisons between works (!). The piece Practice Zero Tolerance, 2006, was a life-sized carbonic reproduction of a burnt car. The confrontation of the oppositions becomes apparent on Who, among you, deserves eternal life? by Erik Smith. Two cars, a black one, and a white one, question themselves during a suspended time beyond sculpture limits. Nicolas Descottes, finally, reintroduces cold violence in his photographs of burning vehicles or stopped by goalposts during their crazy races: the absurdity of life could even makes us smile.


The recent Paris fairs confirmed the current market trend. The Car Show by Tuomo Manninen at Analix Forever Gallery, smooth and resting pictures of crashed cars, the perfectly warped windshields by Guillaume Cabantous at Odile Ouizeman gallery, the Suicide Car (Ford Scorpio Ghia) by Christoph Büchel at Hauser & Wirth gallery, a recomposed blown-up wreck with breaking news broadcasted by the car's radio. Traces of our fragility, confrontations of the dull and contained everyday violence. Fasten your seat belts as artists bring you, by their, side, on a deaddly trip. Dead seat or burnt to death spot? Take your pick...

[Photo : Sylvie Fleury, Skin Crime 3 (Givenchy 318), 1997. peinture émaillée sur Fiat 128 compressée. Courtesy S. Fleury]

Share this post

Repost 0
Published by Benjamin Bianciotto - in Art and News
write a comment


Neal Nasruddin 11/30/2008 20:32

We have Picabia's 1922 Delage..his 1914 Peugeot..his 1917 Mercer..and the 1916 Oldsmobile in which a drunken Arthur Craven almost killed them both...available in beautiful 1/25th scale models carved from Belgian marble and handpainted with extroirdinary details.On display only @ "Used Car Heaven",Havre de Grace ,MD.