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Garagisme: Car Culture

Parisian art director Gilles Uzan on a lifelong automobile obsession and his new car magazine

Parisian art director Gilles Uzan has spent the last decade working in fashion and design. Today, he finally lets his true passion loose: cars. Not content with the existing media coverage of the engine, he created Garagisme; a magazine which studies the car both as a sociological tool and as a source of vehement subcultures. Automobile fictions, gender-related art works, and road trips rub shoulders in the annual publication. 

Dazed Digital: What is it about cars you like so much?
Gilles Uzan:
They’ve been a fascination to me ever since I was a little boy – just like many little boys. But living in Paris can destroy this passion: they are noisy, smelly, useless and fill up the streets. I don’t own a car but have rented several and have gone driving round the world. I appreciate their aesthetic, and I’ve found myself having a cult-like admiration for parts of the engine. But most importantly, what drives Garagisme is my interest for all the cultural phenomena around cars.

DD: What do you feel was missing from automobile press?
Gilles Uzan: Few publications are interested in its relation to human beings. In specialised media, the car is presented as a mere object of consumption or a reflection of someone’s social status. I wanted to address people who don’t care much for either, who don’t recognise themselves in those categories.

DD: How does Garagisme tackle these issues?
Gilles Uzan: I see the car as a potential field of research that touches upon the anthropological and the geopolitical.  If you study the history of the car, i.e. the object itself, it is rather linear, dictated by technological progress. But it is its complexity I want to bring out. The first issue of Garagisme attempts to study the car’s social existence. We have collaborated with various artists (Thomas Mailaender or Bruno Rousseaud, to name a few), but also photographers, urban planners, and novelists.

DD: In times of global warming, isn’t it slightly provocative to talk about cars?
Gilles Uzan: The environmental issues surrounding them is a concern to me. Cars need to find a viable, long-term rather than gimmicky solution to be sustainable – otherwise they will soon be no more than a nostalgic memory.