This playfully subversive proposal takes one of the most famous design icons and transforms it into a new work that issues a challenge to some of the most important norms of contemporary art. The VW beetle has a loaded history. The Volkswagen company (meaning ‘people’s car’) was established in 1932 by the German Labor Front under Adolf Hitler. Ferdinand Porsche’s Beetle design was chosen by Hitler as the means to fulfill his desire that every idealized German family should have a car. The Nazi-flag-red forms in the VW Mutations demand that we take a new perspective.
Cars form the building blocks of numerous prominent contemporary artworks, compelling because of their associations with freedom, prosperity, and status. The common characteristic of these works is that the vehicles are de-glamorized and de-aestheticized. Cars are buried as dystopian monoliths by Ant Farm, dismantled by John Chamberlain, stripped down by Walter De Maria and inflated by Edwin Wurm.
Taking inspiration from auto-designer J Mays’s experimental redesign of the Beetle that transposed its front and rear, this work extends the design process into a surrealist game. The cars have a particular affinity with Hans Bellmer’s dissected and recombined cut-and-shut bodies, where two sets of legs might converge into a single headless torso. The application of these seemingly organic mutations to industrial forms is equally unsettling, transforming the familiar into the uncanny.
In reimagining surrealist sensuality and Dadaist mischief for the contemporary moment, this work challenges the supremacy of Jeff Koons’ sterile reproductions and proposes a daring new approach to re-working found objects. In an art world that so often fetishizes the truth-value of the ugly, we are dared to be unafraid of beauty and pleasure, and reminded that art and design are just as closely conjoined as the fused elements of these sculptures.
Materials: Volkswagen Beetle, Type 1, 1966
Concept and Design: John Beckmann | FOMO Projects
© 2018 Axis Mundi Design LLC.