The Fussy Eye: No Auto to Repair

Car art in what was once an auto-body shop.

Besides chainsaw sculpture, the canon of roadside art also includes rusty old car parts welded into whimsical figures. The headlamps become eyes, the bumpers mouths, and so forth. In rural areas outside Seattle, sometimes the best form of vehicular disposal is just to cut up the old Ford and make it into a lawn ornament. Unfortunately, this is not the approach taken by Indian-born artist Avantika Bawa, who currently teaches at WSU, in her sculptural installation At Owners Risk. She's a conceptualist and a minimalist who seeks to explore "combinations of order and anti-monumentality, wholeness and fragmentation, containment and dispersal, to create experiential spaces and interventions." Since Suyama Space was once an auto-body shop, the fragments on display here include the blue-painted stanchions of a car hoist, some oil pans on the floor, and a little ramp that might be used to race Hot Wheels®. The risks here aren't clear. Is someone going to drown in the oil pans (which actually contain water)? There's no car on the lift to fall off and crush you—a danger you'll hear the Magliozzi brothers mention every so often on Car Talk. But they actually work on cars, and they actually understand the hazards. Does Bawa change her own oil? Can she remove a transmission or pull the plugs? What does she actually know—what is she trying to say—about cars or garages? I have no idea, and neither does she. Suyama Space, 2324 Second Ave., 256-0809, Free. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri. Ends Aug. 10.

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