One could say that the history of the western post-war Germany is closely connected with the history of the VW Beetle at the consumer goods level. It was one of the bestselling cars after World War II and designed with its image as a real „Volkswagen“ as well as composed in its overall marketing structure to fit literally to every citizen. It was produced from 1938 to 2003 and more than 21.5 million cars were sold worldwide. In 1974 VW relocated the beetle production to Mexico. By then the Beetle had already finished its triumphal procession around the world.
While in the post-war German society he started as a vehicle proudly presented as allowing everyone to travel and feel mobile, until the 1970s the Beetle became a student car or the classic second car for the emerging affluent society.
By selecting a spectacular part of a specific VW Beetle as a „pars pro toto“ object trouvé, the work „Gen.Volkswagen“ underscores not only the beauty and myth of design that accompanied a generation, but by the addition of two ink drawings the Beetle parts are spatially and temporally related with questions on female role models of the 60s and the women‘s movement of the 70s.
The bonnet of the 60s (in a very common plain gray color) is accompanied by the drawing of a mother sitting on the edge of a valley with her two little girls (one of whom is the artist). They enjoy the Tyrolean landscape of Fendels , a holiday experience and a female role model as exclusive mother, which they shared with thousands of other western German families of that time. (Interesting in this context is also the fact that until 1958 women of the FRG needed the permission of their husband even for the driver‘s license.)
The second orange VW Beetle rear hood belongs to a „Jeans Beetle“, a special hip Beetle edition, which was launched 1973-75. At that time the Beetle was already a typical student car, as the university sticker shows. At the latest since the American hippie movement, whose favorite car it was, the Beetle also showed a political attitude, here marked by an anti-Nazi-sticker.
The drawing shows a street demo of women. After the student revolts of 1968, the struggle for § 218, which regulated the self-determination of women regarding abortion, again triggered many demonstrations and social discourses until the clause was finally passed in 1975. Since the artist visited a Catholic nuns‘ school in Northrhine Westphalia, the drawing, which is based on a real press photo, shows a nun in costume among the debating women. Strangely, her sight today creates the association with a veiled Muslima.
The work combines a general social development with the personal observations of the artist as part of this society - (feminist) themes are visualized with the help of the iconic success product „Volkswagen“ Beetle, since the artist already had an affinity for automobile design as a child and the beetle accompanied this era.