A Marble Monster Devours A Forlorn Fiat
A curious sculpture provides commentary on Atlanta's car addiction
In Midtown Atlanta lies an unusual sculpture. A Fiat Panda being swallowed whole by a voluptuously carved mass of marble. Since 2017, this work by Italians Julia Venske and Gregor Spänle has been devouring the poor car in full view of everyone.
And only a short walk away, another classic Fiat quakes at the thought of what lies in wait.
Weighing 22,000 pounds, the sculpture occupies a prominent position at the corner of East Peachtree and 10th St, located in one of the city's more vibrant arts districts near Piedmont Park and The High Museum of Art.
The creators of the unusual work intended it as a social commentary on car-obsessed Atlanta. According to Midtown Alliance which placed the temporary installation there, it "invites comment on Atlanta’s relationship with the automobile in the context of one of the city’s most walkable urban districts.."
Julia Venske with her creation in Carrara, Italy; Photo: Midtown Alliance
After 9 months of careful sculpting at a quarry in Carrara, Italy, the 16 ton solid block of marble traveled the 4,856 miles to Atlanta, spending most of the time on a cargo ship.
Venske said of the work, "For us, [Atlanta’s] a lot of the traffic and it’s a lot about the forest. But the traffic is just really obvious."
Ok, wow, thank you I guess? Atlanta's traffic is indeed infamous but the district where the sculpture is located sees some of the most foot traffic of anywhere in the city. I walk past it anytime I wish to visit Piedmont Park. Given I've gone as long as 4 months here without driving or even having the need to drive, it's a poignant statement.
One facet of the sculpture I think is curious is their choice of vehicle. The Fiat Panda wasn't sold in the US and passersby wouldn't be familiar with the individual car model. Additionally, the Panda is a small and efficient vehicle of a type not as common in the US. A car like the Panda would probably have been seen as a solution to crowded city centers and air pollution in its time, not an evil to be eliminated.
But let's ignore the social commentary aspect of the sculpture for a second and just take a look at the car. I've not seen a Panda before I must say, it's quite a good looking utilitarian box, having been designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. And this positioning of the car in the sculpture gives a great view of the FWD drivetrain.
This particular car has very little rust, most of which was probably caused by salty sea air on its long voyage over the Atlantic. The car probably worked perfectly fine when it was cut in half to fit in a big block of marble.
The only other Panda I am familiar with, Clarkson's famous Giant Panda limo, also was cut in half. Seems American pop culture is only familiar with hacked in half Pandas. Hmmm.
So, what's your take on this automotive themed sculpture full of social commentary and voluptuous curves? Like the other classic Fiat in midtown, I'm just happy to be able to go see it anytime even if it doesn't get driven like it should.
This article was crossposted to Oppo's other home on The Hyphen.