Auto. Dream and Matter

14 May 2009 - 20 September 2009

Laboral, Gijon, ES

Auto. Dream and Matter is a multifaceted ambitious exhibition project featuring around one hundred works by over sixty artists. The exhibition mines the depth of influence of the automobile within contemporary art, or more precisely, the relationship between car culture and art creation in recent decades. The lead role assigned to the automobile as a mainstay of 20th century culture and as a symbol of our consumer society, encourages us to address the art-car binomial from more than a strictly aesthetic realm, instead expanding our perspective to embrace social, political and anthropological considerations. Precisely at a moment like the present, when we can already detect a feeling of closure to the era of material culture that ruled throughout the 20th century, it becomes more pressing that ever to cast a gaze backwards on that icon that transformed habits, territory and industry.

The powerful symbolic potential of the automobile, capable of exemplifying, synthesising or channelling complex discourses on the reality of each moment, continues exciting the interest of many artists and one might well say that it is even stronger than in previous decades. The content of this exhibition lies precisely in that interest and in the fruits it has borne in recent years. The vast majority of the works presented come from the last two decades but with a heavy accent on the current moment. A period in which the reading of the car from an art perspective took on such density and complexity as well as critical perspective and detached biting wit. Throughout the 20th century the automobile was one of the most effective media for the material embodiment of dreams. Now, since crossing the threshold to this new century, artists are questioning anew the reality of those dreams.

As such, the thrust of this exhibition is twofold. Firstly, as a necessary reflection on technology and progress and their conditions; and secondly, as a critical gaze from art analysing one of the seminal icons of the 20th century: the car as metaphor for humankind and its dreams.

To paraphrase Allan Kaprow when he defined the readymade, we could say that in Auto. Dream and Matter, the car is nothing if not a paradigm of the way humans make and unmake culture.