Cut and shut

Gabriel Orozco, La DS, 1993

One of the things to avoid when buying a car is getting a cut and shut – a car that’s effectively been made from two wrecks, generally joining the front of one car and the back of another – but Gabriel Orozco’s La DS s a cut up car of quite a different nature. The first thing you notice about La DS is that it’s a readymade in the very specific form of a Citroën DS; but it’s immediately also apparent that something isn’t quite right. This is car, but not as we know it. It seems somehow longer than it should be. In reality, it’s not stretched; the proportions are wrong because the car has been slimmed down in an unexpected way. Orozco took a Citroën DS and removed the middle section making the familiar form even sleeker. Of course removing a section two foot wide (or thereabouts) from the middle of a car does have its drawbacks. It looks beautiful but La DS can’t be driven so turns heads only in the gallery.

Though Orozco’s sculpture makes no claims in terms of time travel – or of any other travel come to that – La DS somehow looks so futuristic that anything seems possible. The Citroën DS was manufactured between 1955 and 1975 and, though cars design has moved on hugely since the 1950s in all sorts of ways, like many cars of that era the DS has an aesthetic that it’s easy to love.

In Orozco’s hands, the car somehow becomes a distilled version of itself. It’s still easily recognisable but the slimmer form is more concentrated. Like much of Orozco’s work, La DS is playful; it’s rooted in the everyday but offers a witty re-imagining of the ordinary in the form of the remade readymade. In the end, like many of Orozco’s works, La DS is art that makes me smile.

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