James Powers


Erik Sommer: Volvo 240 | 2017 | cement and Volvo 240
Volvo 240 [detail]
Volvo 240 [detail]
Volvo 240 [detail]
Volvo 240 [Installation in Progress]
Volvo 240 [Installation in Progress] | 2017 | cement on ca
Concept | 2017 | cement toy car and container

Erik Sommer has a perfunctory, 9 - 5, workmanlike approach to his practice – the results are a peculiar mixture of collage and décollage. Under the auspices of engineering and architecture, Sommer hollows out sections of walls or unceremoniously envelops the tools and remnants of a carpentry job with cement. His installations (Dry-cleaning, House Painting) are often menial tasks or contracts frozen in time – at the point of near completion or recent abandonment.

Wolf Vostell and Gordon Matta-Clark began this excavation with vigor in the sixties. But now, in a dyspeptic, post-industrial America, Sommer's work intercedes in the schizophrenic framework of recent events. He ruminates on the discombobulation of a latent phase of economy and consumerism – adrift, lonely, and self-destructive.

Sommer will be layering a Volvo 240 in cement inside the Fastnet shipping container. This Volvo 240 is one of 2.8 million cars produced by Volvo over 20 years – an incredible feat of production and distribution. Yet despite the successful movement of goods like the Volvo, there is still plenty of chaos and waste. For instance, no universal computer system tracks the contents between freight forwarders, brokers, and shippers. Chemicals and hazardous goods are constantly downgraded and improperly declared. Any available material is used to to keep packages and crates in place (short of cement).

In Red Hook, Sommer’s project stands in stark contrast to the cacophony of business on Columbia Street. On any given day, rows of Lucky Star buses and Arizona Iced Tea trucks idle out front. Oil and scrap metal barges move in and out of the Erie Basin at all hours. The Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station sorts plastic and metal through the night. Sommer puts a halt to this momentum. The Volvo 240 becomes interred inventory within Fastnet, itself an inert vessel.

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