“Full Throttle Ahead” (极速飞驰)
“Full Throttle Ahead” exhibition poster
Look left! A hoard of cars sprint by. Look right! Scooters zoom past the red light. Look left again! Buses speeding. Taxi drivers honking. “Boys On Bikes”[I]. A sea of pedestrians rushes across Nanjing Lu (南京路). Crowded streets. Twisting lanes. Blue and yellow scooters zig zagging. Sanlunche (三轮车) packed sky high with cardboard boxes. It’s an orchestrated chaos of wheels, motors, and smoke! So, you better buckle up cause you're in for a wild ride baby!
More than a means for transporting, vehicles have wedged their way into Chinese culture, and dare I say even tradition. Island6’s new exhibition, “Full Throttle Ahead” explores the vehicles that aid us in the curious quest of life and where it takes us. 
Let’s travel back in time. Speed, power, and design have fascinated artists since the beginning of the 20th century. Cars happen to be the perfect combination of all those things. A vehicle for ideas and self-expression, artists have made the car a central subject in modern art. After all art imitates life and life imitates art. Think of Andy Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash” (1963) part of the “Death and Disaster” series, consisting of silk-screened images of a fatal car crash. Or how about Roy Lichtenstein’s romance comic, “In The Car” (1963) painting, showing a couple driving in silence. These vehicles have become a common stage in the play of life. “A Quiet Date”[ii] followed by a first kiss parked by the Suzhou river. There’s singing, fighting, loving, and even dying. What’s your next destination in life?
Regardless, Baidu Maps (百度地图) knows every path. You could be walking on foot, riding a bike, electric scooter, or motorcycle, driving a car, riding the bus, or maybe a moving van! Feeling overwhelmed? Maybe let’s just call you a DiDi (滴滴出行). Or a “Loony Taxi Ride”[iii]. Perhaps an extra roomy car. How about a white glove driver behind the wheel of your first-class ride? Available any time. Except for holidays. And rainy days. Sometimes not even rush hour. Like that time during New Year’s! Now that I think of it, there’s a 588-kilometer secret everyone here knows. Next station, “xīnchē (新车)”! Just imagine the thrill, the joy, the pure sheer ecstasy of pulling up in a bright neon lambo! The point is showing off you won the license plate lottery. Even if you’re stuck in traffic like Wolf Vostell’s “Concrete Traffic” (1970) cement encased Cadillac!   
Sure, it’s not always “Easy Like A Summer Breeze”[iv] and “Moonshine Drives”[v]. But life isn’t either. There’re bumps along the way. Stop signs, red lights! Traffic congestion! Stopping for gas at Edward Ruscha’s “Standard Station” (1966)! Futile searches for parking spots, especially in Puxi (浦西)! Don’t worry though, Baoans occasionally jump in at the opportunity to help you find a free spot inside the compound garage... for a small fee of course! Or if you’d prefer you can ask “Airparking” (共享停车) to find an available spot for you! Don’t worry about the way back, we can just call a chauffeur-hailing app to drive our car home. Out on the open road, just like in life, you can always ask for help. So, drink away and enjoy the night!
Perhaps you’re more interested in an electric scooter? Ubiquitous of fast paced city life will surely satisfy that “Shanghai Itch!”. Bright blue and yellow Eleme (饿了吗) and Meituan (美团) drivers rush to fulfill food orders. Competitive streets. Sharp corners. It’s a concrete jungle! Sky high “Sanlunche” (三轮车) resemble a Tony Cragg “Stack” (1975) sculpture! An odd collection of chairs. Styrofoam pyramids. A precariously stacked collection of TVs. You see, battery operated vehicles have changed the game.
Scooters, bikes, and tricycles take over the streets, and charging stations and electric cables adorn every corner. Have you noticed the batteries have a small handle for on-the-go convenience?  Because the worst thing that can happen is running out of power in the middle of Huaihai Lu (淮海路)!
Rush hour is intense, I’m not gonna lie! It's not rare to see someone shift to reverse to take the exit they just missed, even on the gao jia (高架)! You hear that? Yep there’s honking, and lots of it! It’s almost like a secret language and yes it is an essential part of driving, believe it or not... just like smoking! Try to ignore the smell of freshly smoked Yuxi (玉溪) cigarettes when jumping in the taxi. It's all a part of the scenery, a mere element in the symphony of the streets.
The buzz of scooters flying by. Car horns. The purr of motors. The occasional driver singing at the top of his lungs! Vehicles have always been a powerful and versatile symbol in art as well as everyday life. Moving. Traveling. It’s a symbol of progress and congestion, freedom but also traffic regulations. Each of these interpretations plays out in the works of Shanghai based art collective Liu Dao. We hope you enjoy the ride!
From May 21st to July 21st 2021
Tiara Alvarado-Leon
Thomas Charvériat
Gao Lei 高磊, Tang Dashi 汤大师, He Dashi 贺大师, Wang Chuanwen 王传文, Wang Tie Zhong 王铁中
Serena Charvériat-Young 杨倩菁, Camilla Zhao 赵莹 
island6 art collective (Liu Dao 六岛)
island6 Main Space, 50 Moganshan Road, building #6, 2/F, Shanghai
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