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Jesse Sugarmann

Oct 3, 2014 – Dec 5, 2014
In the Main Space

Jesse Sugarmann’s We Build Excitement is an ongoing series of performances and reenactments commemorating GM’s discontinued Pontiac Motor Division. Sugarmann creates temporary monuments out of Pontiac Cars at vacant former Pontiac dealerships, capturing these structures on video to speak to both the history of the American auto industry and its unpredictable character. We Build Excitement honors the industry and its workers as well as questions the nature of our often intimate and impassioned relationship to these vehicles. Sugarmann positions the downfall of Pontiac as parallel to changes in American identity, mapping the ways in which personal desire and social orientation are projected on to the automobile industry and the cars we own.

Jesse’s video work traces the line between moments of monument and accident in a lifetime. He researches body movement and personal memory as they relate to the way in which cars and the auto industry have impacted us. Sugarmann questions the separation between our emotional and physical relationships with automobiles.  For example, how does the monotony of factory production compare with the monumental nature of a crash, or how does the lack of human emotion present in the production of vehicles contrast to the emotions present at the end of the life of a car?

We Build Excitement is a celebration of Pontiac as well as a scheme to frame and fill the social void by the division’s closure.  At the core of We Build Excitement is the grass roots development of an effigy of a car company.  Over the past two years, Sugarmann has opened several unsanctioned Pontiac dealerships (housed in former Pontiac dealership locations) across the United States.  These reactivated dealerships have been sites of celebration; locations where temporary monuments were built out of Pontiac cars, and songs and dances commemorated the life cycle of the Pontiac division were performed. And a few cars were sold as well.

Jesse’s show at SPACE comprises of a three-channel video installation documenting the role of cars in our society, from the visual evidence of the vehicles themselves to the remembered choreography of automotive assembly line workers and car crash reenactments. See some footage, here

Artist Statement:

“I am interested in the way that car accidents function as instant monuments to traumatic events. We look at car accidents with the same emotions and energies that we bring to a monument, enduring a moment of adjacency to a totem of violence and death. I engage the car accident using the visual language of monument, combining the elegance and geometric balance of the monument with the chance and violence of the car wreck.” – Jesse Sugarmann 

Read an interview with Jesse and see videos excerpts here

Opening: First Friday Art Walk, Friday, October 3 with Dance Performance Collaboration with Rachel Boggia 

Artist Talk: Saturday, October 4, 12:00PM @ SPACE Gallery

Image: Production still, We Build Excitement (Pontiac, MI), digital video, 2013, by Jesse Sugarmann