Artist Jeremy Dean with half a Hummer H2 for his work, "Back to the Futurama," January 2010Enlarge Photo
Ah, conceptual art. Clearly our country would be less colorful were it not for the efforts of, say, New York artist Jeremy Dean, who got inspired reading about horse-drawn "Hoover carts" made during the Depression from old car bodies.
From there, it was just a short leap to buying a used HUMMER H2--the biggest, baddest, heaviest, meanest symbol of SUV dominance ever built for sale in the U.S.--cutting it in half with a torch, and turning it into...a horse cart.
Yep. He cut up a perfectly good H2, which he bought used for $15,000. That's a good price, apparently, since H2s have now been out of production for many months and it's not clear that GM's sale of HUMMER to Chinese firm Tengzhong will go through.
Model of Hummer H2 horse-drawn carriage by artist Jeremy Dean for his work,Enlarge Photo
Model of Cadillac Escalade horse carriage by artist Jeremy Dean for his work,Enlarge Photo
Hoover Cart, 1932Enlarge Photo
The project is called "Back to the Futurama," alluding to the Futurama displays mounted at both the 1939-1940 and 1964-1965 New York Worlds' Fairs by General Motors, with a nod to the famous 1985 movie "Back to the Future."
Dean has quite a lot to say on the genesis of the project on his website. A few excerpts ...
"At this time of record financial gains, the auto industry began producing ever extravagant cars and SUVs. These huge American gas guzzlers became a status symbol in society leading to increased demand for oil and fuel prices soared.
"So with our very American idea of Manifest Destiny, we meddle in any country that has oil and send our men and women into harms way so that we can continue consuming almost 80% of the worlds resources. But how long can that last?
"My own satirical prediction of the future: Unless we come up with alternative fuel sources and rethink our reliance on a hyperinflated consumer based economy, we may be left with no other options than to hook our cars up to a horse.
"As a symbol of this I [will] take either a Cadillac Escalade or HUMMER H2, which have become monuments to America's consumption, greed and arrogance, and convert it to a horse cart.
"The cart will maintain all its former glitz and glamour: chrome rims, GPS, working sound system, DVD player, and TV screens. But [it] will be pulled by a horse. "
Now being built at Slick's Garage in Palmetto, Florida, the finished HUMMER carriage will premiere during New York City's Armory Week, starting March 3.
Dean would like to sell the piece, to recoup his costs (he's sunk his life savings into the project), and fund a series of horse-cart HUMMERs and Escalades. They include one whose entire body has been chromed, a pumpkin carriage suited for Cinderella, and more.
Our final thought: Given the HUMMER's military roots, it's doubly ironic to display the artwork in a functioning armory, which houses actual military Humvees. They get parked on Manhattan side streets when the building is used for events.