Legacy of the Trabant and other cars of Socialism

“Take them, please!” is part of the message from the above cartoon, part of a larger series seen at ArtMarket Budapest (sorry, I’m not sure whose work it is). And the relationship to the the Soviet-era tin cans that passed (and pass) for transportation is an ambivalent one of fondness and frustration. Perhaps that’s why they keep being thrown up, whole and entire, as contemporary sculptural pieces.

Simon Starling, Flaga, installation shot at the New Museum

These aren’t John Chamberlain’s crushed car part sculptures. Rather they preserve and put the entirety of the Socialist-era cars, known for their poor design, safety, and performance, on view in a way that seems to present then as beloved cultural objects as much as anything else. Czech artist David Černý had some fun with it with his sculpture ‘Quo vadis.’

David Czerny, Quo Vadis

Perhaps this Trabant, a car driven here in Hungary but also in the Czech Republic, runs better on legs.

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