Artist Jeremy Dean created the ultimate vehicle for wealthy, privileged Americans in a post-financiapocalyptic, post-oil war imaginary and heavily satirical future: the Horse-Drawn Hummer. Here is its story.
In Jeremy's post-apocalyptic America, the wealthy will still crave ownership of all things desirable and scarce, but they'll be unable to drive traditional cars because Wall Street's greed will have caused a collapse permanently destroying our economy and ability to buy oil from the Middle East. So what do you do if you still want to lord it over the little people with the ultimate symbol of consumerism gone wrong? You commission your mechanic to convert your Hummer to horse power.
This Horse Drawn Hummer is equipped with chrome "CEO" badges on the roof rack to remind the starving masses of your status, tinted windows so they can't look at you with their shifty eyes and three interior flat screen televisions to distract you from their misery.
To debut the vehicle, which he built in Florida, Jeremy loaded it on to a flat bed trailer and dropped it off in New York's Central Park where he rendezvoused with a couple of draft horses from Connecticut. Turns out the Hummer isn't approved for use of as a Horse Cart in the park and a couple of very angry cops, likely acting on orders from The Man, kicked them out after a single lap. Still, that was enough time to prove the Hummer's merit as a wagon. Most central park horse carts weigh 1,800 Lbs and are pulled by a single horse. Chopped up like this, the Hummer weighs just under 2,000 Lbs and accommodates two horses. It's bigger, more comfortable and requires more resources than a standard wagon, just like the car it's based on.
Why an H2? "For me the symbol that best personifies the arrogant, unsustainable, indulgence of the last era and the inevitable downfall, is the Hummer H2," says Jeremy. "This military vehicle turned 9 MPG grocery getter has been called ‘An indictment of the American psyche on wheels,' and is clearly consumerism at its peak."
But Jeremy isn't pointing a finger at GM or the car industry for producing wasteful excess, saying, "they were after all giving us what we wanted." But he is using the car industry as a symbol of the collapse of the American Dream.
"As the country began to emerge from the Depression, Americans were obsessed with making grandiose predictions about the future," writes Jeremy. "At the 1939 World's Fair in NYC GM unveiled their exhibit entitled ‘The Futurama' which was a large scale model of their vision of the future world we would all inhabit and how the automobile would make it all possible. And in a way, they were right. After WWII the automobile made this country. Massive government investment in the highway interstate system (which was basically the largest subsidy ever handed out to business) created suburbia, and led to the very American Dream of a two car family, the house, picket fence, dog named Spot. At one point the 1950's 1 in 7 jobs were directly related to the auto industry. AAAAhhhh the golden age of America. In 1953 the slogan ‘As General Motors goes, so goes America' was said with pride."
Jeremy has cut a video from that Futurama exhibition together with the Ludachris video and displayed it on the in-cart monitors to highlight the journey from idealized consumerism to its ultimate reality.
"As the current economic crisis has unfolded, GM, Ford and Chrysler have run their companies into the ground by producing these cars, yet they requested billions of taxpayer dollars in bailouts. When GM rolled out its new 2009 line up of cars, it still includes the HUMMER at 9 MPG and the Cadillac Escalade at 12 MPG. HUMMER has since been sold to the Chinese (no small irony there) and GM is in bankruptcy. ‘As GM goes, so goes America.'"
The idea to convert a car into a cart came from The Great Depression, which saw many Americans add horses to their cars because they were unable to afford gasoline. The resulting contraptions were called "Hoover Carts" after President Hoover who was largely blamed for the depression.
To realize his project, Jeremy bought a used Hummer H2 for $15,000, drove it straight into a borrowed Florida garage and started cutting pieces off of it. The resulting vehicle is actually surprisingly well made. All the modifications have been made out of converted parts already on the car. The bottom of the driver's area is the upside down hood, the vertical piece behind that is a section of the roof, complete with yellow running lights. Jeremy fitted electric trailer brakes to prevent the horses from running out of control and the horses steer the front wheels through a tow bar connected to fabricated A-arms. When the economy does collapse, Jeremy could be one of the lucky few to find a job, he could build vehicles like these for the rich and powerful.
The Horse Drawn Hummer was displayed at the Pulse NYC art show and will likely make future appearances here in New York. We'd love to see it roll through next week's New York Auto Show and even asked if it could be the official Jalopnik staff car. Alas, no, it was not to be.