Post in: Cover Features | August 7 , 2015 | Tag in: LEAP 33 | Jacob Dreyer
If Shanghai is a Vespa circling the former French Concession, Beijing is a tough-looking motorcycle built by an artist. Anticipating this need, Blackbridge, a studio in the artist village of Heiqiao, builds customized motorcycles for those feeling that particular need to roam. They recently held a moto-rally in Ordos; finally, the abandoned city has found its ideal use. Custom motorcycles are funny things for Beijing; they are more expensive than a modest car, expose riders to the elements, and alternate between terrifying highways and rutted hutong pathways. Elsewhere, motorcycles are driven by well-off people who want to come off as tough and masculine; in Beijing, there is a huge class of people who drive electric scooters with loads of leeks and offspring. Nobody is interested to pay to look like those guys, so the cultural code of the motorcycle is subverted to some degree.
Adrian Macera’s motorcycles gleam with menace; the aluminum cladding bulges like an overly tight shirt over muscle. Machines like these immediately summon up images from J.G. Ballard’s Crash, Akira’s motorcycle racers, or perhaps Kraftwerk’s Die Mensch-Machine; the frames make you want to huddle your body over them, legs clenched to the sides, as you speed through the city. Without the tackiness of a Harley or the vintage feel of a 1970s BMW, the Blackbridge designs—cobbled together from bespoke parts—seem consciously cyberpunk in their design, which makes sense for a CAFA graduate with a background in raising and training chameleons.