The German duo Köbberling and Kaltwasser are obsessed with wood, but only as an anachronistic take on contemporary modes of transportation. In the past two years, they’ve built a bulldozer made from discarded panels of the Olympic Village, a mock archway to stand as a finish line made of salvaged wood collected in East London, and a temporary railway station in Marfa, Texas. As part of the recently closed exhibition “Car Culture,” at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany–which included works from John Chamberlain, Zaha Hadid, and Hans Hollein to illustrate the art of mobility since the invention of the automobile 125 years ago–Martin Kaltwasser and Folke Köbberling built wooden, life-size replicas of two Porsche Cayenne SUVs that have been smashed in a head-on collision.
Köbberling tells Co.Design that she went to a bunch of car dealerships to figure out how to build their wreck, collecting brochures about different types of SUVs. The Cayenne stood out for two reasons: It got the worst gas mileage of all the ones they saw, and its brochure was most extravagantly produced, including a hardcover version. “It looked like an art catalog,” she says.
To build the piece, the duo used the images from the catalog to make blueprints, which they then projected against a wall to create a life-size paper cutout. But because their studio is so small, the installation was actually constructed on-site for the first time in Graz’s Steirischer Herbst Festival in 2008, coincidentally, the same week that the Austrian Nazi sympathizer Jörg Haider was killed in an automobile crash. “A lot of people thought we prophesied that would happen,” Kaltwasser says wryly.