‘Static Friction: Burning Rubber’, is a solo exhibition by artist collective ‘The Propeller Group’.
This body of work responds to a central theme that revolves around motorbike culture. Viet Nam has the most motorbike usage per capita in the world. Over 85% of the population uses this vehicle as their main means of transportation. Touching on issues of economy, global urban growth, industry, individuality, rebellion and speed, ‘Static Friction: Burning Rubber’ is an attempt to discuss these larger issues with one simple act — the burnout used primarily in street racing culture.
Within Viet Nam, the ubiquitous ‘xe may’ or motorbike is the most common utilitarian machine. Customized and modified to carry a family of four, or moving an entire lounge suite in a carefully constructed ensemble behind the driver, such ‘weight and safety’ defying practices are an accepted norm. The relationship between the system of a machine and how one can innovate its usage is a test that is also central to these bike-racing youth who marry themselves to the speed of their machines. Risking their mortality for the sake of velocity, modifying technology for ultimate effect, these ‘burn-out painters’ seek to individualize these tools that dominate the urban landscape with uniform industrial branding. Though motorbike culture is an international social phenomenon, the relationship between the individual and the collective is a particularly pertinent subject in a culture struggling to govern social growth, innovation and mobility.
In this sculptural video installation, we witness a rider pushing the technological system beneath him to create a series of gestural marks in rubber on the ground. By refusing the ‘stop’ of a brake, by pushing its engine to its limit, we witness a mechanical system producing a mark, a ‘burn-out’ that is permanent — not dissimilar to the way social systems of control are being tested to new limits, to produce new forms of expression across the world that leave lasting effect.