Sports Car on Earth, In Space
TX Contemporary Art Fair
October 10 - 13, 2013
Houston, Texas
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Blaffer Art Museum Downtown Location

Drive Me There and Back Again, Blaffer Art Museum

Model Rocket Launch at Challenger Memorial Park

Blaffer Art Museum's Windows Into Houston Project Space
110 Milam, Houston, TX
November 7, 2012 – January 16, 2013

Drive Me There and Back Again taps into American dreams of mobility, freedom, conquest, and heroism. It features the meticulously restored front and back ends of a 1986 Pontiac Firebird painted in high gloss red and set against a matte red background. In 1986, the Firebird was the fastest and most desired vehicle on the American market, combining the gritty independent spirit of the original pony car with the last vestiges of 1960s space-centric automobile design, complete with world-class aerodynamics. But 1986 was also the year of the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Disintegrating seconds after take-off and costing seven astronauts their lives, the event, at least temporarily, halted America’s ambitions in space and dampened the belief in its infallibility.

Barrera re-imagines the 1986 Firebird as a kinetic, temporal, and performative sculpture. The car’s blinking headlights and turn signals, along with blaring horn, rehearse an actual drive the artist made on September 9, 2012 from the Saturn V holding shed to Challenger Memorial Park. Upon her arrival, Barrera launched a model rocket into the sky, offering an animate replacement for the idle Saturn V and severed Firebird. Simultaneously coming and going, Drive Me There and Back Again evokes nostalgia for the heroic days of car culture and space travel. Combining failure with seduction, the installation, in Barrera’s words, “reinforces the concept of the automobile as the culmination of a dream set; an intangible desire to build the future.”

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