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A 15-Year-Old Murder Inspires a Haunting Installation

Hungarian artist József Tasnádi gets totally surreal to commemorate a 2001 true crime horror story.
Images by Gábor Szőllösi Szánthó courtesy Horizont Gallery

In 2010, the state of Texas executed 29-year-old Michael James Perry for the 2001 murder of Sandra Stotler, the adoptive mother of classmate Adam Stotler. Perry and accomplice Jason Aaron Burkett also allegedly murdered Adam and his friend Jeremy Richardson, all in order to steal a red Camaro. Hungarian artist, architect, and academic József Tasnádi memorializes this crime—also the subject of Werner Herzog's 2010 documentary, Into the Abyss—in Joyride, a new installation at Budapest's Horizont Gallery.


In the process of stealing the Camaro, Perry and Burkett also stole Adam Stotler's white Isuzu Rodeo, not unlike the car pictured in Tasnádi's installation above. The artist planted a tree that bursts through the car's roof with the serenity one can imagine the killers felt behind the wheel of the car they'd killed for. To explain this feeling, Tasnádi cites Georg Simmel's On Women, Sexuality, and Love: “Even in its moments before consummation, the sequence of experiences leading to bliss is already irradiated with the joy of the final satisfaction."

Tasnádi captures that feeling in Joyride, juxtaposing the instincts to meditate nearby or recoil in horror from the symbol of violent murder. He is unsure whether the installation is a memorial to the victims who died a senseless death or to Perry and Burkett, whose psychology is as fascinating and compelling as any character in the True Crime sphere. Joyride leaves us with more questions than answers, but luckily it also provides a nice spot to sit, think, and consider them.

József Tasnádi's Joyride will be on display at Horizont Gallery in Budapest through February 17, 2016. See more of his work on his website.


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