Frieze is bringing this Mario Bellini car back to NY

The designer's shagadelic MPV is returning to New York City, with its mime artists, courtesy of Frieze Projects
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Next stop Randall's Island. MoMA Kar-A-Sutra, 1972, from Mario Bellini
Next stop Randall's Island. MoMA Kar-A-Sutra, 1972, from Mario Bellini

The people carrier or multipurpose vehicle (MPV) is hardly the most attractive style of car on the road today. Yet the MPV’s more colourful predecessor, drawn-up by the Italian architect and designer, Mario Bellini, was quite a bit sexier.

Bellini’s Kar-A-Sutra, first shown at MoMA in 1972 as part of the museum’s exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, was an early attempt to put a living-room on the road.

 

Mario Bellini's Kar-A-Sutra
Mario Bellini's Kar-A-Sutra

This radical rethinking of an automobile’s uses was made all the more ribald, thanks to its libidinous name, its risqué user illustrations, and its accompanying chic photo-shoot, featuring a troupe of mime artists horsing about in a maize field in Meda, near Milan. 

While the vehicle never went into production, the British artist Anthea Hamilton, hopes to brings a version of the Kar-A-Sutra back to New York, when she stages her Frieze Project at the art fair on Randall’s Island this coming May.

 

If this kar's rocking, don't come knocking. Design sketches for Mario Bellini's Kar-A-Sutra
If this kar's rocking, don't come knocking. Design sketches for Mario Bellini's Kar-A-Sutra

“Hamilton’s adaptation of Bellini’s vehicle comes complete with a resident cast of mime artists,” Frieze explains, “who demonstrate the variety of possible positions that one can assume when inhabiting this hybrid form of transportation, while interacting with the viewers.”

Anyone venturing into the car should bear in mind that it is not the first work of lost Italian design that Hamilton has recreated. Towards the end of last year, New York’s SculptureCenter unveiled Project for door (After Gaetano Pesce), Hamilton’s version of a unrealised doorway arch by Pesce, also dating from 1972, which resembles a man’s splayed buttocks.

 

Gaetano Pesce and Anthea Hamilton in front of Anthea Hamilton's Project for door (After Gaetano Pesce) (2015). Image courtesy of the SculptureCenter's Instagram
Gaetano Pesce and Anthea Hamilton in front of Anthea Hamilton's Project for door (After Gaetano Pesce) (2015). Image courtesy of the SculptureCenter's Instagram

If you daren’t take on the Italian mimes, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with the other Frieze projects this year. The Philadelphia artist Alex Da Corte will install a huge inflatable above the fair's pavilion; the British artist and poet Heather Phillipson will install a spine-like line of multimedia works in among the booths; Argentina’s Eduardo Navarro, will instruct a group of performers with mirrors on their heads to follow passing clouds around the fair’s grounds; the Italian art-world prankster and Phaidon author Maurizio Cattelan will stage a tribute to Manhattan’s, Daniel Newburg Gallery, the place where Cattelan made his US debut; and the LA artist  David Horvitz will hire a professional pickpocket to secretly drop miniature sculptures into visitors’ pockets and bags. Proof that even in the art world, you can get something for nothing. For more on the fair go here; for greater insight into Bellini’s car get this book.


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