It happened first with pizza, sushi, and Chinese, but now you can pick up the phone, order some art, and have it delivered to your home. This ingenious idea is the brainchild of Laurence Hazout, who invited some 30 artists - including Alberto Sorbelli, Lucy Orta and Sylvie Fleury - to transform various aspects of her dark green Austin Mini. The result was a metamorphosis of everything from the seatbelts and headrests to the ignition and airbag.
A short, spunky 28 year-old currently working in a Parisian gallery, Hazout organised the show, named after her licence plate, as both mobile gallery and perpetual happening - for 400 francs, art-lovers can simply call Hazout's cellular phone, and she drives '619KBB75' directly to their doorstep.
At first glance, the overall effect of this wacky-looking Mini is of spirited, folk-arty clutter, like a throwback to Flower Power and hippies' lived-in vans. Its chassis is covered in sprawling text, its windows painted with pink daisies, a sneaker is tied to the bumper, and the boot is bursting with multi-coloured water balloons. The wheel rims are decorated with kitschy, plastic, Korean dolls and fake pearls, and an eerie, smiling mask is stretched between the headlights, its full lips and white teeth straight out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Instead of being truly customised like a shiny-lacquered, beefed-up hot-rod, the little car looks more like a beat-up jalopy filled with junk. But it's smarter than it appears. Shifting radically from the traditionally frontal presentation of art on solid, white walls, this show is best viewed from the passenger seat, but should be surveyed from every angle and direction. Despite the vehicle's limited space, the works offer a surprising range in scale, from miniature clay forms poised in the back window to a huge 'roof garden' - a plot of grass in a metal crate, half-roof rack, half-sandbox. Many works appeal directly to the senses: Georgina Starr's cassette of her personal radio station; music by Pipilotti Rist emanating from the speakers; Simon Periton's penis-shaped air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror; a tiny TV playing a dreamy Sam Samore video; and Marie-Ange Guilleminot's replacement of the harsh car horn with a sugary apology - a female voice repeating, 'Excuse me, excuse me'.
While many works appear gimmicky or decorative, others play with our impressions of motion and perception. Jeong-a Koo covered the windscreen with a sheet of transparent magenta film, giving the outside world a hypnotic, supernatural glow, the colour of raspberries. Using simple, yellow-paper cut-outs, Patrick Jouin blocked out the speedometer and the petrol, oil and temperature gauges. Motoring around Paris' winding streets, devoid of technical data, Hazout now has a heightened awareness of the car, risking overheating or running out of petrol, while trying to stay innately conscious of her speed.
Climbing inside and clumsily attempting to sit in the passenger seat, you find it piled high with a megaphone, loose wires, odd-shaped cushions, and a pile of wrinkled Paris maps. Uncomfortable and nomadic, the car might be seen as a metaphor for art's energy and vitality, but it also mirrors the urban anxiety and uncertainty, revealing the challenge, the intensified awareness required in creative risk-taking.
Ultimately, '619KBB75' is more about making art accessible and just plain having fun. Parking strategically in front of packed openings and events, Hazout becomes at times a street vendor, a travelling salesman. Outside the jammed opening of Gilbert & George's Paris retrospective, she orchestrated the coming together of 50 classic Austin Mini's putt-putting around the driveway of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville, simultaneously honking their horns. All built throughout the past three decades, the little cars constituted a tribute to the couple's 30 years of collaboration. As the 'curator' of this unusual and witty road show, Hazout herself became an artist of sorts, strategically marketing her installation while promoting the idea of art in general, and leaving us to ask ourselves what road it will take.