Naked Machine (Volkswagen Modern)
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
The light blue Volkswagen hanging in this space immediately attracts attention. It is a work of art by the Thai artist Surasi Kusolwong and is called 'Naked Machine, (Volkswagen Modern)'. The wheels, engine, steering wheel and interior – everything has been removed from this car, leaving only the bodywork. It hangs upside down, sturdily attached to the ceiling with steel wire. The two doors have been removed so that you can easily sit down in it. In order to make this more pleasant, some comfortable cushions have been placed inside it. The windows have been covered with coloured foil. You can have a lazy rest in this car or watch a video. In fact, you can do everything there which you cannot do when you are driving a car.
The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most successful cars ever to have been produced. Altogether more than 21 million were manufactured. This car was once the symbol of the post-war German economic recovery, the so-called Wirtschaftswunder. Many people wanted a Volkswagen, and previous owners still remember the characteristic space in the boot at the back which served as an extra back seat for many small children. For a long time the Beetle was the prototype of a no-nonsense car, a means of transport that became affordable for many.
Although a car is often chosen for its image and prestige, it is in the first place simply a means of transport. It is just another consumer object that serves to take people from one place to another. The Beetle was a perfect example of this. As an artist Surasi Kusolwong often removed such consumer articles from their context, giving them new and unexpected functions. In this way, he contrasts usefulness with art and raises questions about the need for the objects surrounding us. The reason for doing this is: “to practise and demonstrate the way of happiness.” He involves the viewer in his work and in this way provides an alternative for the passive consumption of images in a museum. In this work he also replaces one function of the object with another, but ensures that the whole thing can still be used as a work of art. The car becomes a special place to spend time and in this way changes from a method of transport to a place where you can be transported. We become the engine ourselves in a feeling machine with unknown possibilities.
- Exhibition text 2011 -
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