Constructed with 12,000 laser-cut pieces of mirrored stainless steel, Jordan Griska's new sculpture, Wreck, both brightens and solemnizes its haunt in Philadelphia's historic Municipal Pier 9 with its depiction of a fatally crashed Mercedes Benz S550 in all its shimmering, fractured glory. It can be no coincidence that such a piece — which, in its portrayal of destroyed decadence, echoes themes of the collapsed American dream of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby — would find a resting place in a lasting testament to America's industrial prowess built in 1924, a mere two years after the events in the classic American novel take place.
As Griska himself explains in his Artist's Statement, "my work increases awareness of objects' pasts and symbolic qualities as they relate to American identity in order to invite viewers to imagine alternative futures." Indeed, the expert juxtaposition of the luxury of the vehicle and the inevitable ruin of a fatal accident recalls Fitzgerald's ode to the disintegration of the American dream as those who chase it abandon moral values in favor of empty materialism and the pursuit of wealth. Griska's piece shimmers with the allure of novelty and opulence while simultaneously inviting viewers to reevaluate if everything broken is "junkyard material," exemplified by the car's destroyed beauty.
The piece likewise takes a page from the beloved novel with the subject matter itself: the description of Gatsby's Rolls Royce in the novel as "terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns" could just as easily apply to Griska's Mercedes, created by distorting digital 3D renderings of the original vehicle, and fractured so "when you look at it you will see the ceiling not yourself," as is the nature of illusion. The artist himself expresses hope that "people can see this work and be inspired by it, and be horrified by it," much like the American dream itself as we, in Fitzgerald's words, "[drive] on toward death through the cooling twilight."