Artists Destroy Gas-Guzzling El Camino

Performance art was billed as saying goodbye to waste and materialism.


Not long ago, I wrote about a man who wanted to destroy his gas guzzler for the environment, soliciting advice on whether he should blow it up, crush it to pieces, or convert it to a hybrid. Unfortunately, Ryan Mickle's devotees are all still waiting with bated breath, as he has not updated his website since August 1. Last weekend, two Washington, D.C., artists beat him in his quest.

The YAY Team, a performance art group presented by the local Meat Market Gallery, sent out the vague invitation: "Please join the YAY Team in saying goodbye to a personal era of waste, materialism and ignorance. In 'Black Out: Retiring a Cloud of Guilt,' they will renew their commitment to healthy living and a healthy future as they remove what would have been a negative impact on all our lives for years to come." The location of the performance was a small parking lot in a gallery-heavy part of Washington, and a crowd started to gather 10 minutes before the show.

Suddenly an El Camino turned into the lot. Inside were the artists, wearing black leotards, who gathered themselves for a few minutes in the car before proceeding to shatter the front windshield. They climbed out, reached back in the car for some sledgehammers, and began beating in the sides and hood of the car. Unfortunately, the members of the YAY Team (one male, one female) are skinny, lithe artists, not weightlifters, so the most destruction they were able to wreak on the car was smashing out all the glass and putting some dents in the hood and roof. The female team member struggled under the weight of the hammer, and the car wasn't really destroyed at all. Once they wore themselves out, the artists reached into the back of the El Camino, pulled out some bikes, and sped away.

The message was loud and clear. There's no place for a gas-guzzling El Camino in a walkable, public-transit city like Washington, and I'm sure the artists were happy to unload the thing. As for the artistic merits of the performance—I found it lacking. It was campy, and the whole thing was too similar to the annual rush event of a fraternity at my alma mater. But eco-art, whether high or low, good or bad, is something we're only going to see more of.

And Ryan Mickle: It's your turn.