DIVYAMAAN SAHOO

The motivation/intent behind this project is to remember/piece together a dream — one that features my old beater car moving along on a long empty stretch at an ambiguous speed either 70 mph or at slow tempo, I cannot seem to remember which (the two are indistinguishable in my memory); slowly, however, the car “explodes”, and its various parts expand outward. (dream unfinished)

The content of my work is process-driven, beginning with a deconstruction of my automobile (auto = self, mobile = moving) and somewhat pataphysical reconstructions. The deconstruction began when my car finally broke down off the I-94 S (Dan Ryan expressway) on my way south to Urbana-Champaign. After trying everything I could to get it started again, I bushwhacked to the Red Line and went home, hoping that the Illinois State Troopers would tow it eventually but I was mistaken. I returned to the same spot the next morning and finally towed the car to a church near my house. After negotiating with my landlord, I struck up a deal to clean his garage (one that had been untouched for decades) in exchange for being able to use it for a month. In a week, my friend Luan and I pushed the car into the garage, and I finally began taking the car apart, moving my way inside out.

The strategy I employ in making the work mainly involves using my car as the primary source material for the work while recalling dreams and various memories of enduring long distance drives while working various odd jobs in the United States. I gathered an ensemble consisting of circus folk, puppeteers, dancers, musicians, and filmmakers to meet once a week to practice mundane “pedestrian” movements in slow tempo.

A collaborative protest, this slowing down, a public demonstration. What started off as a strange pursuit of a pataphysical vision soon began to find some historical context. The car symbol in conjunction with a rhetoric of speed reminded me of Futurism, guided by its obsession with speed/motion and technological advancement. I was aware that the car served as a Futurist symbol in early 20th century art and I slowly began to think of ways of acknowledging this connection within my work.

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Dear friend of yf,

 

I saw a car on fire. It was 4:30 in the morning when the three of us ran to the kitchen window. The car was parked in a private parking lot on the alleyway between Ridgeway and Lawndale, the first alley parallel to Wrightwood Ave. 

My car is usually parked on the first spot as you turn into Lawndale from Ridgeway:

We only recently moved to Logan, forced out of our previous home that is currently scheduled to be demolished.

Two of us got on the road to Holland, Michigan after moving, but the car broke down. The frame holding the rear wheels broke off and the car began to swing from side to side. Needless to say, we got off the highway and drove back home very slowly with the blinkers on.

Safe travels,

Divyamaan Sahoo

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Dear friend of yf,

The bed of a patient is quiet. I choose to be asleep, dreaming. In my dream, I see a woman in a dark suit telling me a Cantorian story. There is a dog in the corner of an elevator, very much like the one we are in right now. The dog gives birth, and leaps over a gap onto the other side.

Blue. The color of the car was blue.

 

The smell, diesel, drive, manual. A Daewoo Matiz. No, the other one.

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Bright Blue. I am on a bicycle. 

Brighter and brighter, blinding yellow, coming straight at me. Imagine one of the tires of the bright blue car spinning fast. 

Just below the spinning tire, one of the wheels of the bicycle is almost parallel to the ground as a result of the initial collision, and there I am, trapped below the bicycle, continuously deformed by the whirring wheels of the car. The car accelerates during the collision, dragging me and the bicycle with it, and then sweeping the two of us off to the side, the bicycle bent to a perfect right angle, and me with a two part right-clavicle. The car finishes a sharp U-turn onto the outdoor basketball court, pulverizing the courtside, felling a side pole, and nearly colliding into the flower bushes. A spinning dark gray, my field of vision begins to clear. There is a widening of perspective followed by a rush of onlookers. Like the sudden passing of a speeding freight truck, I regain consciousness on the tarmac, standing up naturally as if nothing had happened, then fall to the ground.

How I wish the driver hit the brakes and not the accelerator. How I wish the driving instructor sitting in the passenger seat responded sooner. Why could the driver not be the fifth grade teacher I routinely see from outside the classroom I have to cross by in the third floor hallway? Most days I run across, only because I do not want her to look at me and remember everything.

Safe travels,

Divyamaan Sahoo