Apocalypse Trans-Am 2

July 21, 2011

John Scott’s Apocalypse Trans-Am 2,
with the entire Book of Revelation scratched into its paint,
is now on display at the National Gallery.
(Photo courtesy NGC)

To think that it almost never was. When a curator from the National Gallery visited Scott’s studio in 1993 and discussed the idea of buying the car for the permanent collection, Scott had a sad reply: “You’re too late.” The Apocalypse Trans-Am had been scrapped.

A recent photo of John Scott.
(Photo courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery)

“The first one just rotted away, because nobody gave a sh-t about it,” Scott says in a phone interview, from the Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto. “It went to the scrapyard and it became a square. I was going to keep the square but it weighed about 2,000 or 3,000 pounds.”
Scott had originally made the piece in 1983, and believed it was the best work he’d done as an artist, but he couldn’t find a buyer, nor even a gallery that would take it as gift. It was a dark time in his career, he says, when he was “stomped on quite thoroughly critically.” I ask him if his Trans-Am was harshly criticized. He says it was “harshly ignored.” After several years he had no choice but to send it to the crusher. “It broke my heart,” he says.

“The first one took me about two weeks,” he says. “I did it all myself. I did a lot of drugs and worked around the clock. The second one, I had help, and it took me about five weeks.”
Why did it take longer with helpers?
“Because they were just f-ck ups,” he says, with typical candour. “What I had to restrain people from doing was writing their own poetry into the car. They would start writing their own stupid verse into the car. You explain to them that, ‘No, it’s a sacred text. It’s all one piece. You can’t improvise on the Old Testament’.”

The old testament? I don’t remember reading the book of Revelations in the Torah. What a waste of time. This should of been ignored like it was before. It’s a stupid idea. btw… most of the crap that goes on in art museums and art schools is stupid crap. In this case… the crap is stupid because the concept of what the crap is about isn’t clear. Is it cool because it is the bible? It is almost like this drag queen is mocking the bible. That is the problem with Christianity. Because of it’s orthodoxy… any kind of disagreement with the text makes one a heretic. It seems terribly obvious that these artists have not been reading the Torah. Writing the whole thing like a hand written torah scroll, but written on a car… that you can’t read when it is moving. I just don’t get it… but then again… I don’t get a damn thing about the acid trip that Christians call Revelations. The whole thing seems a bit forced. I started reading a little of it and I found little of value to life. It is like a bunch of freaky Dungeons and Dragons kids decided to write something silly and completely ludicrous.