I remember my greatest experience from the “Silent Film Days” in Pordenone, Italy, 1995: the French film ”L’Homme à l’Hispano” from 1926. A slightly bizarre, quite commonplace, story, where the only thing I can really recall now some years later is the car itself with its elegant lines, its sublime speed and dangerous driving. This film if any generates the idea that images migrate, that they live their own life and can take off in new, sometimes quite unexpected, directions. I know that I have seen these images –or the likes of them – in other places, both before and after. But the reiteration does not in any ways deaden their suggestive force.
The car: a metal box, a simple vehicle for transportation – but also the badge of a whole culture, of the modern life. That the car and the moving image were born more or less the same year seems like a coincidence but was an idea that appealed a great deal to Marinetti, the futurist prophet, who in 1910 declared the Bugatti to be the most beautiful work of art. If movement is the highest principle of life and art then the car and the film are jointly its foremost form of expression. What magic lies not in the mere mention of these cars, preferably as exactly as possible: BMW 2800, Jaguar E-type FHC or OTS, Lincoln, Porsche 365CHE or 911… What images are not conjured up by the trademarks and models? And how highly charged can a single glance in to the driver’s seat be? Some – the DS, the Beetle-bus, an older Porsche – are comfortably worn down. Others – a Jaguar, a Lamborghini – are brand new, seemingly still waiting to be put to use.
The fascination of depicting the car’s front seat, its inside, proves to be unbelievably strong. It emphasizes the car’s user, absent in image but present in imagination. It opens multiple possibilities, it invites the beholder into the vehicle. Have a seat and drive – or wait for your chauffeur. The car carries the promise of speed or of travels at a leisurely pace, sometimes of frivolity, always of a fleeting passing.
All these associations that branch off…preferably to films: Alain Delon will any minute climb into the Citroën in Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Samurai Killer”, James Bond will take the BMW after having abandoned the Aston Martin; the Lincoln or some other American car carries numerous American film heroes in it’s driver’s seat, the Beetle-bus serves as the alternative car in just as many political films, portrayed with loving irony in Lukas Moodysson’s “Together”.
The paradox of portraying one of movement’s foremost expressions in a still image: Anna Kleberg’s seemingly stable interiors from different cars are permanently on the verge of taking off. It is as if they were vibrating in secretive concentration, waiting for the moment – anytime – when somebody will step on the gas. Cars drive away. Images migrate.
Astrid Söderbergh Widding
Translation: Ciléne Andréhn