’87 Monte Carlo

The sculpture ’87 Monte Carlo consist of a full scale replica of a 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo sedan, machined and carved from bass wood, reproduced as if it is abandoned resting on cement blocks with various parts apparently removed for salvage.

Throughout Canada’s diverse landscape the image of an abandoned, disintegrating automobile tends to appear in every region. Typically these cars are hulking mammoths of another age, when cheap oil and the romance of the open roads lead to an explosion of sleek Detroit inspired designs. In our culture where cars are a symbol of personal freedom, and alternately an object of uncompromising selfishness, the image of a dilapidated car seems to resonate with a simple poetry that recalls the remains of a fallen beast slowly merging with the earth. It is an image that is both repulsive and beautiful.

I have chosen the 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo (the SS Aerocoupes model) as the basis of the work because its design recalls the glory days of factory involvement in stock car racing in the late 60’s, when street cars such as the Ford Torino were produced so their racing counterparts could compete on NSCAR tracks. Being produced in the late 1980’s invests the Monte Carlo’s design with a certain nostalgia for the glory days of big block engines, at a time when the big three auto makers were seeing their gas guzzling giants being out sold by smaller, more efficient Asian models. The design of the ’87 Monte Carlo is a last hurrah before the ensuing decline of the North American auto market. Today it is rare to see these cars on the road, more typically they are found in a state of half repair, resting on blocks of wood in farmer’s fields or back alleys. These massive hulks of metal are forgotten dreams of acceleration and masculinity abandoned in the face of rising gas prices and practicality, but still hopeful of a return to former glory. By producing this form in wood as a static object, there is an attempt to draw a parallel between the masculine heroism of this car’s design, and the resonate machismo of monumental sculpture. This work speaks about past glories as much as any war monument or memorial does, but with an acknowledgement of the flaws and limits of its purpose.

My studio production has been engaged in the reproduction of forms and movements found in nature through material and mechanical means. With this project I reverse this process and replicate something manmade in a material that speaks of temporality and nature. Over the course of the exhibition the elements will take their toll on the piece. The sun will fade its color and the moisture will begin to expand and crack certain elements. I intend the piece to degrade and age in the same manner an abandoned car begins to rust and decay.