The latest exhibition by artist Jårg Geismar, COME CLOSER – life inside the car, concentrates on the inside, not outside, of cars. Le Corbusier, Edward Kienholz and Andy Warhol all worked with the body of cars in exhibition spaces but as Geismar explains, “The focus of cars is usually on the exterior as it’s easier to grasp. Children play with cars. Everybody has a memory of the outside of a car – the form, colour etc. There are many examples of artists working with the outside of the car like Keith Haring, Ange Leccia, Wolf Vostell and Erwin Wurm to name some. But about the inside, there are not so many . . . ”
So Geismar’s work focuses on the inside – different scenes of people’s experiences and situations inside cars. Describing the exhibition on display at AUDI FORUM TOKYO from 7-13 September, the German artist born in Gotland, Sweden says, “It’s only on for one week. It’s incredibly dense. I’ve never prepared so much for such a short exhibition period.”
The performance, artworks, photographs, drawings and stories in the exhibition all have the same common theme – memorable and unique experiences or thoughts that occur while people are driving (or being inside) cars. For example, a mother talks with her teenage daughter about relationships and ‘girl talk’, two businessmen discuss a deal in the back seat with a chauffer, a car lover cleans the car from the inside, an opera singer sings out the window. “Cars can be so many things,” the artist explains. “Social meeting places, driving cinemas, problem solvers or status symbols.”
Asked what inspired the project Geismar responds, “It’s the fascination about human beings and machines. In the 80’s I started working with cars using projectors, and mainly with blank projections. After working in different spaces, I got interested in site-specific room installations. I was searching for other spaces – moving spaces for my installations. Then one day in the 80’s I read about ‘the car as a social sculpture’ by Le Corbusier and this led me to install the first projection car – ‘Breathing Cars’ – at the Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf in 1985.” This work then inspired Geismar, a guest professor since 1997 at The Higher Institute of Fine Arts in Gent, Belgium to do similar works, like cutting apart car bodies and using them as little cinemas for projections.
This current exhibition is a continuation of the artist’s work – ‘Elegant Moving’ – a projection/film installation that was shown inside the AUDI R8 at the German Embassy in Tokyo in 2008. “But COME CLOSER isn’t only about projection,” he says. ”It’s about the experiences and memories people have inside the car. Many decisions, which affect many lives, have taken place inside cars. The audience has to ‘come closer’ to see what is happening.”
So what is Geismar’s favourite memory inside a car? “The car to me is a driving cinema. I’ve been enjoying this since I was a child. It gives you another view about your surroundings and perspectives of life. Also, when I was a child in Sweden we lived on an island. We’d leave the car to be on the ferry during the trip and when we arrived, we went back inside the car and continued our journey. This experience of going in and out of the car, and in the boat, is my other favourite memory.”
And what does this world-renowned artist see as the future of cars? “More multifunction – flying and swimming – as well as greater environmental friendliness. And in ecological terms, there’ll be surprises in shape and form.”
So next time you’re stuck in traffic, remember to pay attention to what’s going on inside, as well as outside, the car. Come closer.
This is a new post by David Report contributor Kristina Dryza.