Thomas Hirschhorn, Poor-Racer, Christchurch, 15 March 2009. Commissioned by The Physics Room in association with Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu for One Day Sculpture. Photos: Stephen Rowe
(click to enlarge)
Sunday 15 March 2009, 00.00-23.59
The Esplanade, Sumner, Christchurch
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Sunday March 15 2009 saw The Physics Room and Christchurch Art Gallery present a new sculptural work by the international artist Thomas Hirschhorn developed specifically for Christchurch and part of the New Zealand-wide ONE DAY SCULPTURE series.
This remarkable sculpture existed for just 24 hours, starting at midnight Saturday 14 March until midnight Sunday 15 March, in a busy public location on The Esplanade that runs adjacent to the Christchurch beaches of Sumner and Scarborough. Hirschhorn dramatically customised a standard sedan with a variety of cheap materials as is typically seen in his practice, and places the car on show for a limited time only—potentially attracting both car enthusiasts and the general public alike.
The sculpture references the global enthusiasm for car customisation evident in the lowered, louder, brighter and bolder DIY modifications seen parading city streets: "I am interested in the universal act of customising. Its universality comes from its personal act as an individual gesture. Universality is created by love, by personal implication, by giving a form to one’s passion. I am interested in the Form which is created by customising or tuning a car. The fact of personalising one’s own ordinary car in order to give it a unique individual touch is the revolutionary gesture of everybody, without exclusion. Customising or tuning is an act of resistance to the non-written laws of all kinds of exclusion. In the desperate and useless act of car-tuning I see a form of resistance throughout form. And as an artist - what can interest me more than Form?"
Thomas Hirschhorn Poor-Racer is commissioned by The Physics Room in association with Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. Supported by Pro Helvetia and Canterbury Community Trust.
Thomas Hirschhorn, Bataille Monument (Imbiss), 2002. Documenta 11, Kassel, 2002. Photo courtesy of Werner Maschmann
Renowned for hypersaturated installations, Thomas Hirschhorn's work is a bombardment of information and imagery. Referencing philosophy, popular culture, economics, poetry, artists and designers, Hirschhorn's assemblages commonly employ foil, tape, board, plastic, paper, and other found and ephemeral materials.
As part of a generation of European artists and intellectuals who came of age in the wake of the 1968 Paris student uprisings, Hirschhorn's perspective is informed by boldly anti-hierarchical notions, a stance consequently reflected in the thrift and eccentricity of the materials used to construct his works. Deeply suspicious of traditional notions of heroism, Hirschhorn has adapted the format of spontaneous public memorials and commemorative roadside shrines in order to pay homage to the artist's heroes without the overblown semantics of the monumental tradition. Previous projects have tellingly investigated the contemporary socio-cultural climate via the work of various left-leaning intellectuals such as Gilles Deleuze and Georges Bataille. Avoiding the pristine expectations of the gallery, Hirschhorn's altars are acted upon by time and environmental contexts and ideally blend back into the situations from which they emerged over the period of their installation. In relation to the transitory nature of these sculptural tributes Hirshchorn has said, "The disappearance of the altar is as important as its presence. The memory of what is important doesn't need a monument."
Born in Switzerland and spending time in France, Hirschhorn was educated at the Schule für Gestaltung in Zürich. Exhibitions of note include Bataille Monument Documenta XI, Germany, 2002; 24h Foucault, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2004; FlugplatzWelt/World-Airport, Venice Biennale, Italy, 1999.