You may remember as a child collecting flowers and pressing them between the pages of a thick book. A couple of days later, they would be paper-thin and fragile but they would last an eternity. Ron Arad, an Israeli artist-cum-designer, took the same concept and applied it to cars – the Fiat 500 to be particular.
Ron Arad took six Fiat 500s and crushed them into a 12cm-thick metal sandwich in an industrial press situated in Groningen, the Netherlands. According to Arad, he is not destroying the cars, but immortalizing them like we used to immortalize flowers. The crushed cars, aptly named “Pressed Flowers”, are on display at Arad’s exhibition “In Reverse” till 30 March 2014 at Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin.
Visitors will find the crushed cars spread on the wall as if they are paintings. Arad says that instead of making useful things by bashing metals, he is doing the reverse. He took sculptures in the opposite direction and made 2D objects from 3D ones, instead of the other way around.
The Fiat 500s, also known as Cinquecentos, may look like cartoon cars, but their unexpectedly perfect forms are thanks to thorough experimentations of how automobiles are compressed when squashed. Arad began experimenting with toy cars. The result was not the crushed lump he had expected, but the flattened cars’ contours allowed the original design to shine through.
Achieving the same effect with the real thing was a little tricky, but Arad was successful. Before squashing the cars, he removed the tires, seats and motors. Each car was smashed sideways in the press into 12cm-thick sheets of metal. The astounding thing here is that although the car is completely squashed, it is still instantly recognized as the Cinquecento.
Arad also used a bit “makeup” on the crushed cars. For instance, the flattened tires are hung under the cars and the folding tops are draped where they originally had been.