George Brecht: Motor Vehicle Sundown at Museum Tinguely / Remix

It’s no secret that quite a few artists are car enthusiasts. Jean Tinguely was definitely one of them. Consequently, last year’s exhibition Car Fetish was a perfect match for the Museum Tinguely in Basel, Switzerland. Car Fetish was all about how artists and their works deal with the automobile as the ambivalent object that it is. The exhibition showed the wide range of art influenced by the car. The show featured more than 160 artworks by more than 80 artists. Among them: Arman, Giacomo Balla, Robert Frank, Jean Tinguely, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Roman Signer, Chris Burden, Damián Ortega, Richard Prince, Mel Ramos, Superflex, and Andrea Zittel.

Car Fetish was complemented by a side program. As part of this program, the Museum Tinguely presented Fluxus artist George Brecht’s work Motor Vehicle Sundown. Motor Vehicle Sundown is a concert in which cars are the instruments. Conducted by another Fluxus artist, Larry Miller, the owners of the cars honked, operated the flasher, revved up the engines, and slammed the doors to the amusement of the audience. Despite the heavy rain, the viewers had fun, and because the “instruments” were all classic cars, no one seemed to be bothered by the considerable amount of exhaust gases the emitted. Among the cars that participated in the “concert” was also Jean Tinguely’s Lotus racecar that is normally exhibited together with Eva Aeppli’s Five Widows sculpture in the museum.

George Brecht was born in New York as George Ellis MacDiarmid. He was an early and one of the most important protagonists of the Fluxus movement. In 1970 he moved to Düsseldorf, and in 1972 to Cologne, Germany. He participated in Documenta 5 (1972), Documenta 6 (1977), and Documenta 8 (1987) in Kassel, Germany. George Brecht died in Cologne, Germany in 2008.

George Brecht: Motor Vehicle Sundown. Conducted by Larry Miller Museum Tinguely, Basel. Solitude Park, Basel / Switzerland, June 7, 2011.

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