Today the driver of the artwork titled “Shared Propulsion Car” — arrested on Queen Street on October 25th — appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to operating an unsafe vehicle. The car, pictured here on Queen, is on display at Mercer Union (37 Lisgar Street) until December 8th. The rest of the story from Mercer Union:
On October 25th Toronto Police arrested the driver of Shared Propulsion Car, an artwork by the 2007 Sobey Award winner Michel de Broin, on Queen Street West. A trial date has been set for April 3rd, 2008.
The revolutionary vehicle consists of a 1986 Buick Regal body stripped of its engine, suspension, transmission and electrical system, and propelled by the energy of its passengers. The vehicle retains the illusion of the mass-produced luxury automobile, but is now reduced to a shell, with a top speed of 15km per hour. This unique car requires no gasoline and produces no toxic emissions, presenting a political alternative to the conspicuous consumption of car culture (no wars have been waged over pedal-power).
The vehicle is part of a solo exhibition by the acclaimed artist, on display at Mercer Union, an artist-run centre in downtown Toronto, from October 24th to December 8th. The car left for it’s maiden Toronto voyage on October 25th, the afternoon after the opening reception. Dean Baldwin, brand-new license in hand, took the steering wheel, assisted by Dan Young and gallery Co-Directors Dave Dyment and Elaine Gaito. The public responded with enthusiasm, sympathy and solidarity.
The vehicle was driven nine blocks (from 37 Lisgar Street, to Strachan Ave), before being pulled over by the police. The driver and passengers were left to wait for 30 minutes in the car, presumably while the officers determined which law had, in fact, been broken. They settled on “operating an unsafe vehicle” and a tow-truck was called.
Today Baldwin appeared before a judge and entered a plea of not guilty. A trial has been set for the third of April, at 3pm. The court will have to argue that the Shared Propulsion Car is more dangerous than other vehicles on the road (bicycles, unicycles, roller-skates, rickshaws, skateboards and other â€œmuscle-powered vehiclesâ€, in addition to automobiles). In the last 50 years 200,000 Canadians have died in car accidents. No pedal-car deaths have been reported.
Mercer Union and artist Michel de Broin would like to invite you to join us on April 3rd, in courtroom R at 60 Queen Street West, at 3pm. Seating is limited, so please arrive early. With the expectation of winning the right to operate the vehicle on the streets of Toronto, the artwork will be towed to Old City Hall on the morning of April 3rd. We hope to leave the courthouse in victory, and slowly pedal home.
Photos by Benny Zenga