Simon Starling’s Fiat Flaga
A few weeks ago, I covered Simon Starling’s work “Flaga” as part of the exhibit Ostalgia. While the exhibit is now closed, the image has stuck in my head — which is the result of effective conceptualism. Here’s what I wrote about his interpretation of the Polski Fiat for Forbes:
Simon Starling’s process for the work “Flaga” began in Turin, Italy in 2002, where a 1974 Fiat 126 that he acquired was built and developed. He drove the car to a contemporary Fiat factory in Bielsku-Biala, Poland, the home of Polski Fiat. Upon arrival, Starling replaced the hood, trunk, and doors with white parts that had been manufactured at the Polish factory. He returned to Turin, stripped the car and mounted the chassis to the wall, in a representative display of the Polish flag. The resulting piece “Flaga (1972—2002)” represents a social commentary on the shifting discourse between East and West over the last forty years.
The Fiat 126 was first introduced in 1972 at the Turin Motor Show as a replacement to the Fiat 500. Fiat opened the factory in Poland in the early 70s, where presumably labor and operations were more cost effective under communist leadership. The Fiat 126 was not produced for Western European customers after 1982, but continued to be manufactured in Poland until 2000. What originally was intended as an Italian city car became the symbol of Polish daily life in the Communist Bloc.