The Slow Inevitable Death of American Muscle

In the latest issue of The Brooklyn Rail I look at Jonathan Schipper’s installation at The Boiler.

What a great idea. Artist Jonathan Schipper, with vital help from engineer Karl Biewald, manages to transform a car-crash into an observable work of art by slowing it way, way down. Two bygone muscle cars (a Camaro and a Firebird) are strapped to a steel frame outfitted with a sophisticated gear system that moves them imperceptibly toward each other, simulating a head-on collision in ultra-slow-motion….Even after the gee-whiz, techno-geek factor wears off, Schipper�s installation scans as a poignant deconstruction of male rage and regret as well as a thoughtful�and playful�take on mortality. On each visit, we see that the crash has progressed a little further than it had on our last visit. We can walk around the cars, calmly marveling at the slowly bending hoods, only half aware of the calibrated chains turning quietly off to the side. �When we see an automobile destroyed, in a way we are looking at our own inevitable death,� Schipper writes about the project. �This moment is, because of its inherent speed, almost invisible.� By enabling the viewer to rubberneck bloodlessly and at leisure, Schipper asks us to consider our own mortality in the context of the grindingly slow process of life. From this perspective, death can seem less tragic than the workaday: the final outcome of industry….
Read the entire article here.

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