and then it came…
crude, dry, and beaten — perfect.
the crooked red sticker demanded “handle with care.” scars and tattoos collected from Hemiksem to Plainfield never revealed the contents hugged in naked cardboard — but to hell with any preconceptions when that perforated flap was ripped open.
an artist, some old Leicas, and rolls of black and white film were the tools used to re-ignite anyone’s passion caught in a slack tide. 911 noises and static from different tongues around the globe hushed. a baritone whisper from unshaven lips captured the attention from attention seekers. hear the voice in your head and let the eyes translate what words will always fail to describe. the book, unprotected and heavy with emotion, is pulled out from its kraft paper gabardine. this is Bart Kuykens.
a slight crush of the corner beat the finger’s oils in making it personalized; nothing screams presence more than road bruises. the book is reduced to the essentials; no dust jacket, no unnecessary bullshit. A Flat 6 Love Affair, and a serial number, WP0ZZZ91ZGS102241 embossed in gold begged the fingertip’s caress. if the 1986 chassis number didn’t pull the eyebrows together, the faint backslash feigning imperfection between them would. the cover opens to reveal night framed in paper…
how could something so simple clothed in polar opposite shades quicken the pulse with anticipation? the creator’s rollerball signature opens the door unlike so many other books. somehow, the ritual of a time forgot when reading was a physical affair becomes a new experience all over again. Magnus’ tired words, Johnny’s syllabic adjectives, and Bob’s quartered thoughts mean nothing, do nothing. flipping three pages shoos the mosquitoes away; something far more important lies ahead. this will be a journey into an intimate corner of the soul. Luys de Navaez’s guitar plucks chords of Passeavase el Rey Moro -- the mood is set, the page turns, the trip begins.
"...the shape, the legend, and that goddamned mechanical sextet rock and roll howl coming from behind."
the Leica’s mechanical blink is heard with each page rolled to the left; this is how the spell is cast. the white space surrounding the photographs deepens the trance reserving enough consciousness to absorb the VIN, name, city, country, the 911’s particulars…and a few words. that’s enough to tell the story leaving the rest to the imagination. any more condemns the mind to laziness and ruins the spell. but it’s the back slash gapping the serial numbers from the rest that keeps a secret; maybe it’ll remain so.
there’s something about this tribe bound by machines that bellow a language in 1-6-2-4-3-5 rhythm. each of them are worlds apart in personality yet share one mutation of DNA that draws them to the shape, the legend, and that goddamned mechanical sextet rock and roll howl coming from behind. the realization hits; this isn’t a book at all, it’s a motley family photo album.
papa Albert hunched over Dr. Fuhrmann’s opus Typ 547 in four cams. cousin Achim squat down stretching the rubber quick-release straps over the catches to lock his ’80 SC’s decklid. brother Ronald, love smacked by a signal orange ’74 2,7 Targa, two-fingers a smoke while staring at his beloved. momma Kine brings a romantic tear to the eye waxing lyrical of her husband’s 30th wedding anniversary gift in 1978. uncle Peter, looking every bit a debonair movie star, gets dimples from his Weinrot ’87 Carrera. and who could forget how sister Kristel, buckled by seduction, let a 964 C2 Cabriolet steal her Coeur.
everyone of Bart’s subjects surrendered that day. he caught them at their most vulnerable immortalizing them in black and white. was it the romance of being documented by a method discarded in favor of technology that makes this album riveting? maybe the celebration of simpler times that birthed these machines, those who drove them, and those who rushed childhood to fulfill a vow of owning the first one they ever saw, the first one they ever heard?
before the last page faded to black, a thought occurred when one shot on page 77 had seared itself to memory. Bart and his old girl; he, a step or two ahead, leading her as if a Sioux warrior would a wild Mustang mare from pasture. she’s drawn to him, his silent command with a turn of the head leading her away. “Come girl, come…” fold the page over…he’s tamed her. she’s become inseparably his until death. that’s what this love affair is all about. only fools with empty souls fail to see how a bond between man and machine is possible.
through the art of photography stacked and bound, Bart’s telling us something poignant…these aren’t cars, nor are they simply 911s, these are mares. thought, emotion, touch, bond; the photos drag you deeper into the owner’s odyssey. their 911 has become a part of them; they’ve become part of their 911. each has a personality, a scent, which belongs to no other. this is about your odyssey, your devotion to a machine that transcends into the realm of personification.
the eyes begin to lose focus on the pages. sounds of that fan whining, sucking air and forcing it through alloy fins can be heard in the back of the head; 3000, 3600, 4200, 5800 revs…the howl of the flat 6 turns into a banshee scream; oil squirts under pistons, six timed explosions urge conrods to gallop in fluid rhythm. then, the pulsating der der dum der der dum
of a horse’s hooves pounding the earth blends in, drawing heavy breaths, air rushing through her mane. the memory’s super 8 spins spliced reels of a 911 and a mare at full bore; 911, mare, 911, mare, 911…machine and beast are one in the same.
there’ll be times when familiarity derails the senses, it’s human nature. if there’s a way to re-ignite the sensation when the experience was fresh, when everything was a mystery waiting to be revealed…when fear, uncertainty, excitement, and virility were reasons for feeling alive, it’s within these pages. Bart’s journey did more than show us a good eye; it turned the switch from love and passion back to lust and infatuation. highball!the book can be purchased here: