Artist Statement | Isla Hansen
Sidewalk Empire Sunset Select: Work By Dedalus Foundation MFA Fellows Cecily Culver & Isla Hansen
Modifiedpowerwheels.com is a longstanding and steadfast DIY community and a surprisingly cultivated website – now turned well-organized forum designed by Daniel Mota – dedicated to the modification, upgrade, and fixing of ride-on children’s toys such as Power Wheels and Peg Peregos. The top of the site reads, “Welcome to the Internet's only dedicated site to Power Wheels Mods,” and while it may not be the only source for information regarding do-it-yourself power wheels projects, it is one of few. But perhaps the key word here is dedicated.
Simultaneously reverential to and subversive of the capital symbol represented by the mass-produced toy powered car, the projects exhibited on the site range from aesthetic alterations and re-gendering of the toy to complex electronic rearrangements that include power increases, LED installation, and the addition of remote controls. The nature of the dialogue that surrounds these souped coupes manifests relationships between parents and their children, the role the internet plays in the creation of culture, and perhaps even the place art holds in the middle-class household. Who do these cars tell us more about – the kids who bring them to life with play, the dads who are altering them to go faster and faster, or the American industries behind technological toys big and small?
Ride or Die Toad Princess Escalade, 2016
Modified 12v Power Wheels Cadillac with polyethylene, polypropylene, paint, fabric, foam, LEDs, and custom power circuit modification.
47 x 72 x 39 inches
“The disruptive impact of the Web has been uneven at best. From one angle, power has been sucked to the periphery: new technologies have created space for geographically dispersed communities to coalesce, catalyzed new forms of activism and political engagement, and opened up previously unimaginable avenues for self-expression and exposure to art and ideas. But if we look from another angle and ask how, precisely, the power of institutions has been eroded, the picture becomes murkier.
The amateur ethos flourishing online… is said to reveal something profound about human nature… The abundance of user-generated content, no matter how silly or derivative, reveals an intrinsic creative drive… But these tidily opposed categories of professional and amateur are ones into which few actually existing creative people perfectly fit. Even well-intentioned celebration of networked amateurism has the potential to obscure the way money still circulates. We should be skeptical of the narrative of democratization by technology alone. The promotion of Internet-enabled amateur- ism is a lazy substitute for real equality of opportunity.”
- Astra Taylor, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age
Cosmonaut Zero-Gravity Drift Stang, 2016
Modified 12v Power Wheels Mustang with polyethylene, polypropylene, paint, fabric, foam, aluminum, LEDs, and custom power circuit modification.
36 x 84 x 38 inches
Exhibition on view June 16 - July 17
The Gallery at Industry City
274 36th Street, Brooklyn, NY