OPENING RECEPTION JUNE 12TH 7-10PM
JUNE 12TH - JULY 24TH 2015
Jesse Sugarmann's We Build Excitement is an ongoing series of performances and reenactments commemorating GM’s discontinued Pontiac Motor Division.
The Pontiac Motor Division was phased out in 2010 as a requirement of GM’s Chapter 11 restructuring. This dissolution of Pontiac came quietly, occurring without celebration or protest. Pontiac’s end was publicly accepted as a necessary adjustment in a desperate time, an initial and obvious step in the resuscitation of America’s flailing auto industry. The decision to close Pontiac was almost automatic. And with this decision came the sudden loss of one of America’s most interesting and long running car companies.
The charge of the automotive designer is to create physical objects that both forecast and preempt contemporary notions of self-identity. In this area, Pontiac was both an industry leader and a company prone to marketing blunders and social miscalculations. Pontiac designed cars with a hand of adolescent masculinity, bringing an affordable machismo to the marketplace. Had it lived on, GM’s plan for Pontiac was to evolve the badge into an “enthusiast” marquee, a rear-wheel-drive-only line with sport and performance in mind. Cutting this evolution short, however, left Pontiac with the Aztec as its epitaph. Its narrative interrupted at the worst possible time, Pontiac will sadly be remembered for its body cladding rather than for its innovation.
Pontiac is thought of as a maker of cars that were brash, even immature, in their design. And Pontiac did indeed make some fantastically ugly cars over the years, garish in their visage and clumsy in their fabrication. But Pontiac was also inventive, daring, and occasionally brilliant, developing iconic muscle cars and segment defining minivans and sport utility vehicles. With the closure of Pontiac comes the end of its uniquely boom-or-bust approach to automotive design, the closure of one of America’s most risk-taking companies.
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, Jesse 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.
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