“Henry Ford built more than cars. He built a way of life. He built production lines and franchise dealerships. He built drivers clubs. He sold a way of life. A dream of freedom. A dream of progress. A dream of America. When I was young and growing up in a house opposite an allotment in a fragment of suburb lost somewhere near Cambridge, I submerged myself in that dream, I suffocated myself with it. I imagined endless dusty roads and open top cars and long hair licking upwards like flame into the darkening sky. I imagined guys who actually thought of themselves as guys and chicks who actually thought of themselves as chicks. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine everything else, everything I might be missing; I tried to imagine things I didn’t even know about yet. For me a car is as much myth as it is object. Reflected in the glass of its windows is a hundred years of history that it shaped in its image and a promise that it was never going to be able to deliver on.
Not only is the car implicitly theatrical, it is also itself a kind of theatre. A roof and walls keeping the world at bay. A comfortable seat to sink into. Somewhere safe and private; reassuringly mundane. An artificial world that, like the theatre, feels predictable and almost agelessly familiar. We know what to do in a car, how to play our part. You can roll the seat back, put some music on and watch reality as if it’s something happening far away; as if it’s simply being projected onto the windscreen. I remember doing this show in Glasgow and watching every day as a young man in a suit came up to the top floor of the car park and sat and ate his lunch in his car, staring out of the window at the concrete barrier and the sky beyond it. Cocooned. Lost in his own world and yet absolutely sure of where he was for perhaps the first and only time in the day.
When I initially had the idea for this show it was the strange paradox of these two very different things that I was most curious about. I was interested in how a car could be so mythic and yet so mundane; how it could contain all this history and all these widescreen dreams and yet at the same time be so familiar as to go barely noticed in our everyday lives. I wondered if there wasn’t a way to collapse those two things in on each other; to use people’s familiarity with the experience of a car to make all those historic, even mythic, resonances feel incredibly close, even perhaps lived. I wondered if playing out this grand idea of a car inside an actual, really quite average car might be a way to change’s people’s relationship to it, and by extension to the world it has shaped in its image.”
Experience Andy Field’s Motor Vehicle Sundown, Fri 18 - Thu 24, at Trenchard Street Carpark.