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The "Peace Car" of Arthur Wicks in Berlin.
The City was, and is, the centre of German history: Berlin The Place where the event occured, was the nucleus of this history.  On the 18th October, nearly a year after the Wall fell down, the Peace Car of Arthur Wicks rolled from Potsdamer Platz to the Brandenburger Tor.  At that point of time Potsdamer Platz was still devastated land, overtaken by the historic events of the previous months.  But still it seemed to belong to a different time  Of this period only relics now exist: a hill under which supposedly lies the Fuhrerbunker of Adolf Hitler: roads which are reminders that Berlin was the liveliest place in Europe in the twenties.  In this specific location moves a contraption which in its own way is out of time.  But it is imprinted with this history.

Arthur Wicks's Peace Car is the third in a series of machines in which the artist reflects on mechanisation.  He sees the machine as a moment of expression of this century and in this sense he is connected with the Futurist Movement at the beginning of this century.  The machine is nowadays only a reminder  of its development, for today, instead of material content, we favour streams of information.  The same holds true for the armoured car of Arthur Wicks.  It spans different times because it copies the original form of a mechanical apparatus and at the same time confronts us with the possible loss of all machines.

Mechanisation is perceived only as an irony.  The functions are maintained solely by fake.  Symbols, like a sort of rocket, are moving around without creating any real threat.  The armoury is a dummy.  The motion always comes to a stop because the machine, the car, seems to be programmed to become non-functioning.  The artist moves the machine, but one can guess the exhausting effort needed to do that.  He is at the one time the mover and the moved.  The interdependence between man and machine cannot be more clearly stated.  In the background there are glimpses of Charlie Chaplin in "Modern Times", but the Peace Car is like the swan song, the Abgesang.  There is, however, an irony in this "sculpture" of Arthur Wicks.

Berlin is the right place for this Abgesang.  The present is filled with the past and pregnant with the future.  The city was the ending point of travel for the Peace Car through Europe, beginning in Holland and ending in Hamburg via Berlin.  Because there appears to be no base for comparison, the differences between these cities becomes more evident.  Every city is connected to its own special period of time.  For example, Hamburg was a dominant harbour in the time of the Hanse.  Now it seems that Berlin is the centre of a new, free Europe. 

The Peace Car itself had its premier in a performance in May 1990.  One episode of this performance was called the BATTLEFIELD.  In a special way this holds true for Berlin today, because these battles can also be fought on economic grounds.  The work of Arthur Wicks reacts to this situation in a double sense.  In the background arises the question of technology, which has developed out of  different ideological systems.  The artist doesn't give an answer, but the question itself is meaningful, because it is stated in a non-verbal form.  Maybe it is the distance of this Australian, Arthur Wicks, from the real events, that make it possible for him to react in such an impressive way to the historic upheaval in Berlin and Europe.

Thomas Wulffen      Berlin,  January, 1991



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