A working HUMMER H2, cut in half and reassembled as a functioning stagecoach, complete with: 24" rims, working lights, sound, five onboard TVs and video. The idea references Hoovercarts of the Great Depression when after the Stock Market crash of 1929 people were no longer able to make payments on their newly financed vehicles, buy fuel or tires, so the cars sat idle. In the rural south the solution became to cut the car in half and hitch it up to a horse. The resulting contraption became known as a Hoovercart after President Hoover who was blamed for the Depression. Built during the height of the Great Recession, the CEO Stage Coach allows current circumstances to inform the work, using history as points of identification and contrast, to interrogate potential futures.
Objects carry meaning. This fully functional HUMMER was acquired at market rate from a dealer who recently purchased it from an auction of bank seized vehicles in FL. It was cut in half, completely disassembled and then reassembled into the final piece.
The CEO Stagecoach no longer has an engine or transmission, but has been engineered so that when the horses turn left or right, they also turn the front wheels much like a car steering wheel would.
As the country began to emerge from the Depression, politicians and corporations were obsessed with making grandiose predictions about the future. Fashion, art and architecture of this era took on a futuristic look. This is evidenced by Art Deco and the accompanying Streamline Modern movement that took new advances in aerodynamics and ballistics as a design principle to strip down and streamline design, giving the look of sleek futuristic speed. Automobile manufacturers embraced this look wholeheartedly. At the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, General Motors unveiled an exhibit entitled "The Futurama". This large scale diorama was GM's vision of the future world we would all inhabit and how the automobile would make it possible. In this “brighter and better world of tomorrow” (the imagined future world of 1960), the viewer was confronted with a self-described monument to “the American scheme of living.” “Come,” the omniscient voice of the unseen announcer invites, “Let’s journey into the future... what will we see?”
In a similar way the Futurama horse carriage project invites us to once again journey into the future…
INTERESTING REFERENCES TO HOOVER CARTS
Perhaps the most thorough accounting of the contraption came from Time magazine Mon. Oct 10, 1932.
“In Wayne County, N. C., a depressed farmer cut off the rear end of his disused' automobile, fastened shafts to the axle, backed in a mule, went riding. Other farmers, unable to buy 23c gasoline with 7c cotton or $5 tires with n^ tobacco, did the same. Soon the roads of eastern North Carolina were overrun with similar vehicles pulled by mules, horses, oxen, goats or a pair of husky boys. North Carolinian's, many of whom had been Hoovercrats in 1928, transposed two letters of the term, called their conveyances Hoovercarts."
"In Goldsboro, one Gene Roberts, Newshawk, promoted a Hoovercart Rodeo as a publicity stunt. Goldsboro entertained its biggest crowd since William Jennings Bryan spoke there 34 years ago. Some 400 Hoovercarts paraded through the town. Streets were jammed. Goldsboro's police and four State highway patrolmen could not untangle the traffic jam. Filling stations did their best day's business in many a month—selling hay. Angry politicians had newsreel photographers barred, pleaded with Newshawk Roberts to publicize the carts as Depression Chariots. It was too late. Signs on the carts proclaimed: HOOVER GOT MY MULE, THE SPIRIT OF HOOVER. One drawn by two oxen announced: WE'LL GET THERE REGARDLESS OF HOOVER AND THIS AIN'T NO BULL. Goldsboro businessmen offered prizes to winners of chariot races, mule cart races, goat cart races; races of carts with pneumatic tires, carts with straw-stuffed tires, carts with no tires at all. A milling company that offered three pounds of grits to each entrant gave away more than 1,000 lb. A cinema theater issued 300 passes to Horse Feathers. The fame of Goldsboro's Hoovercart Rodeo spread. Rodeos and parades were held in Oxford (469 entries), in Roxboro, Kinston and Wendell. More & more Hoovercarts appeared on North Carolina roads, spread northward into Virginia. Last week the first one appeared on the streets of Danville (pop. 22,247). Virgilina, Va. organized a Hoovercart parade.”
References to Hoover carts also appear several times in To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”
Campaigning for President, Truman had this to say about the Hoover cart:
“Nowhere in the United States this year have I seen a single exhibit of that famous North Carolina farm invention--that product of ingenuity and hard times, of personal despair and political mockery--the Hoover cart. You remember the Hoover cart--I didn't find that in Iowa, or anywhere else--the remains of the old tin lizzie being pulled by a mule, because you couldn't afford to buy a new car, you couldn't afford to buy gas for the old one. You remember. First you had the Hoovercrats, and then you had the Hoover carts. One always follows the other. Bear that in mind now, carefully. By the way, I asked the Department of Agriculture at Washington about this Hoover cart. They said it is the only automobile in the world that eats oats. They don't recommend it, and neither do I.”