Eric van Hove
VW Passat Gear Box, 2016

Mixed media, 15 materials including Middle Atlas white cedar wood, walnut wood, mahogany wood, Wenge wood from Congo, pepper wood, Purple Heart wood, cow bone, nickel silver, yellow copper, recycled aluminium, recycled brass, resin, paint, wood glue, Chinese superglue
300 x 90 x 43 cm
Courtesy the artist

The sculpture VW Passat Gear Box is the deconstructed and disassembled visualisation of a VW Passat gear box replica. The true-to-scale object was created by van Hove and his team of highly specialised artisans in his studio in Marrakesh. The sculpture refers to the Volkswagen Passat, which was produced during the 1970s and supposed to offer inexpensive mobility to large parts of the middle class. Over time, disused cars were exported from Germany to Africa, where they were sometimes reused, repaired and driven again, thus beginning a new life cycle. Van Hove found such a gear box in a Moroccan scrapyard and used it as template for the construction of his sculpture.

Central to van Hove’s work is not only the material quality or function of the original object, but also the process of translating it from a mass-produced industrial item into a unique object made by individual people. The object is removed from its original context of usage and transformed into a piece of art. The artist releases the object into a culturally specific field of appropriation where its local aesthetic and traditional craftmanship become visible.