How well does a crummy, old car work as a canvas for art? It's a question that curious onlookers in Tallinn and Berlin were given the chance to ponder last week as an unusual exhibit/road trip between the two cities got under way.
Making its debut this year, the Slowball project involved 20 "previously loved" cars, artists from Estonia, Finland and Sweden, a little paint and a lot of enthusiasm. The result: 20 new works of street art.
On September 18, the cars were displayed in an exhibit called "Art on Wheels" at the Tallinn Creative Hub. Each was then boarded by a team of two to four people for the 1,800-kilometer road trip through Riga, Kaunas and Warsaw. When they reached their final destination, Berlin, on September 22, another one-day exhibition was held before the cars (minus three that broke down and had to be junked) made their way back north.
Pulling into the Tallinn Creative Hub's yard for the initial exhibit, I found a parking spot facing a car painted up with a half-naked woman, with her bare parts covered by her long hair. The BMW brand mark on her belly had been transformed into a diamond and crown of flowers appeared on her head. After staring face to face with this woman, I suddenly realized that I was parked right next to one of the exhibits. I wondered, are all the cars being presented this way, just standing around the yard?
With a further look around the area I found other artworks, including one featuring what was either a blue-headed alien boy or a man with a sad face - I couldn't be sure.
More samples awaited inside the facility's garage/gallery. Each of the cars had been given a name by the artist who decorated it, names like Winston, Anne, Huliganka, Steven Seagal, Tank, Paula, Marilyn, Barbie, Hugo and Frida. All of them were very colorful, even in ones covered in darkness.
There was an Audi that would be a graffiti lover's dream, an old Lada displaying a cartoon girl's face, a rainbow shooting from her ear, a hippy-looking Volkswagen seemingly being devoured by gummy worm candies.
These differed quite a bit from one I accidentally found later parked near Tallinn's railways station: this car was painted up with pictures from an old anatomy textbook.
Sadly, these rolling artworks weren't sticking around. They were off that night for the big road trip, and the teams that got to drive them to Berlin would be having a blast for the next four days, competing in games, driving competitions and other challenges at each of the city stops.
For Estonian art audiences though, the fun isn't entirely over. With the Slowball road trip now over, nine of the cars are back, and are being displayed on promo tours to various towns.
And of course there's next year's Slowball, going from Helsinki through Turku to Stockholm, and the 2015 event from Barcelona to Milan. It'll be interesting to see how much momentum this creative phenomenon picks up.