What’s the mysterious car in ATEC?

'china.porsche' aims to capture a blend of Chinese traditionalism and modernism. Photo by Rylee Russell | Mercury Staff

Since September, a sports car has been parked on the first floor of ATEC — why is it there and where did it come from?

In partnership with UTD, senior director of the Crow Museum of Asian Art, Amy Hofland, sat down to talk about the new art installation by Chinese artist Ma Jun. The piece is a true-to-size sculpture of a Porsche 911 titled ‘china.porsche.’ The sculpture is the first in a series of installations students can look forward to in the coming months on behalf of the Crow. The sculpture’s delicate painting mimics the porcelain style of Chinese ceramicists during the Qing Dynasty, and its messaging serves to blend Chinese commercialism of the past into contemporary status symbols.

“ATEC is such a wonderful canvas because of its industrial design, and it’s just a beautiful space for contemporary art,” Hofland said. “Another big reason why this piece currently resides in ATEC is its poignant blending of art and technology. This blending is a phenomenon that embodies a lot of the university’s goals as an institution predominantly focused on science and technology and determining how to approach the arts through that lens.”

The piece displays traditionalism and modernism side by side and expects its audience to consider both simultaneously. That sort of question, Hofland said, is well suited to a school as dynamic as UTD.

“At its heart, ‘china.porsche’ asks its viewers to consider the following,” Hofland said. “What do we value? Why does it matter if we’re driving a Porsche or driving a Buick?”

‘China.porsche’ is on display in ATEC for the duration of the 2022-2023 academic year. It will then move elsewhere on campus while the university continues construction on the Athenaeum. In addition to a new performance center, the Athenaeum will house an extension of the Crow Museum in Dallas. The new space is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024. In the meantime, students can look forward to more installations like Ma Jun’s Porsche around campus.

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