Monday, July 27, 2009

Lowrider as cultural machine

Attending the 17th Annual Pharaoh's Car Show in Wilmington yesterday, Ken and I marveled at the aesthetics and community of car customization. From Classic Chevrolet to stripped down Ford to souped-up trucks, the car functions as a dynamic space for cultural expression and agitation carrying across the LA streets the legacy of lowrider history, Chicano identity, and the politics of having wheels. The car literally becomes a signifying machine for the production of various meaningful codes, which galvanize specific communities around the pin-stripe, the hydraulic lift, the car stereo, each a syntax within an expansive language seeking to take it low (to duck the law). Heading back to our own car, a rather dull Ford, and turning the ignition I couldn't help but feel the textured mythology running through the car, as a site for the making of particular freedoms (imagined, fantastical, real). The car already promises the open road - modifying its body, customizing its shape, appropriating the built-in class politics running from the Chevy to the Lincoln, seems to supplement through a magnifying zeal all the potentiality found in being behind the wheel, as well as taking to the road.

No comments: