Ron Arad interview

Wednesday 25th May, 2022 - Bruce Sterling

*He likes Fiat 500s.

Liam Casey (ZORA): Reverse Again is your first NFT series. Did it come to you clearly early on, or was it a completely abstract concept?


Ron Arad: The mechanism is important for me. The main thing is: For what? In the old days, with architecture, the building of cardboard models was very important. But today, we can have a video. We can walk through a building that doesn’t exist.

After I had my retrospective at Centre Pompidou, MOMA, the Barbican, I had a lot of pressure to do a retrospective in the museum that I designed outside Tel Aviv, the Holon Design Museum. I wanted to do a show that transitioned between manual and physical to virtual. I came up with the idea of doing a show that’s called In Reverse.

Normally you start with the paper and then you build and it becomes a three-dimensional thing. I intended to do the opposite and to take things that are three-dimensional and functional and turn them into 2D. In Reverse was about the physical, the manual, the real, and the virtual. I took all sorts of prisoners.

I took Fiat 500s—this perfectly three-dimensional, really functional object—and turned them into useless, two-dimensional things. I flattened the cars.

And then I thought how do we make this into something that makes more sense in the NFT world? It was a very good way of taking something off the shelf and making it more relevant to the discussion today.

LC: JG Ballard, the English author, organized an exhibition in 1970 at London’s New Arts Laboratory, featuring totaled cars; Crashed Cars. He argued that a car crash was a tremendous sexual event, a liberation of human and machine libido. Was Ballard ever on your mind in developing In Reverse?

RA: I read some of his books and loved some of his books—how can you not? But I never put it in that category. For me it was more to do [with]—I called them ‘pressed flowers.’ I was more interested in talking to the Italian family—not far from here—that worked to get 500s. When I approached them, they looked up to my Fiat 500. The only one question that I found very difficult to have a good answer to [was]: ‘Why did you crush your Fiat 500?’ I said, ‘It’s in the studio; it doesn’t work.’ I used to say it will become art one day.

When I told them what I wanted to do with the car, they literally cried: ‘How can [you] do that?’ I told them, ‘Look, I’m not destroying it; I’m immortalizing it.’ They got it, and were instrumental in the separation. They helped me….